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^Sarcasm noted. Seriously though, we know what needs to be done. Legalize marijuana and probably make cocaine available in a medical setting for people who are truly addicted, like methadone/heroine injections in Europe. But unfortunately the damage is probably already permanent just like the alcohol prohibition gave the mafia a start: there's no putting this cat back in the bag (thanks, reefer madness people).

My fear is that as the Mexican drug war begins to spread through the United States that we will end up with the opposite. Instead of Homeland Security at every airport, we will have it in every neighborhood.

The success of localized pushes to legalize marijuana is a good sign. The failure on the federal level is not. Sadly the legalization push has largely been rationalized as "marijuana isn't that bad for you, it even has medical value" ; that same argument doesn't work very well in the other categories.

Rather, the legalization story needs to be switched to one where criminalization causes increased usage and death to abusers along with irreconcilable and inexcusable damage to bystanders.

Everyone with a rational mind knows what alcohol prohibition did. We need to break down the barriers erected by decades of government financed propaganda to move forward.

<conspiracy_nuthead> But wouldn't it be in the best interest of the prison/weapons/security-industry to keep this fear of Zetas-inspired civil war growing until they can sell contracts for TSA-style security in every US neighbourhood? </conspiracy_nuthead>

While you can often get the medical methadone/heroine programs they are not the norm in Europe. And they always come with the risk of a user falling back to the black market should the need arise. The availability and quantity of drugs is usually heavily restricted and don't allow for any lapses in daily routine or emotional affection. As a result methadone is readily available on the streets. I don't think such programs are a cure-all, merely a first step.

In Europe it does not only depend on the country but also on the city, which programs are available to addicts. The same goes for possession of minor quantities. Rules are highly confusing and it is usually safest to go by: "If you don't know the unspoken rules, try not to break the written ones."

Agreed. If the US legalized the production and distribution of all drugs (a la Portugal http://www.virgin.com/richard-branson/blog/time-to-end-the-w...), a good bit of the american money funding these folks could be taxed and redirected to schools and healthcare in the US. Unfortunately, there's a large swath of americans who would see that as another Obama step towards a communist apocalypse. So it would never get through the Republican House.

Production and distribution of drugs is as illegal (and a crime) as it always was here in Portugal, and we have busts regularly. We only decriminalized (not legalized) the possession of small quantities of drugs for personal use.

Oops. Important distinction.

The Federal government would be insane to legalize drugs at the federal level even if they wanted to do that. Better to try a test out and see how it goes before doing it across the US. But, with this last election we are going to see if this experiment works by proxy of legalization in several of the states.

Absolutely agree.

The problem with drugs has changed though in recent years. The new generation of addicts are doing mostly research chemicals or regular pills like painkillers and such.

So in a sense some of the biggest drug dealers in the future will be pharma companies. When you hear how severe something like oxycodone withdrawal is compared to heroin withdrawal you understand that our societies drug problems have not peaked yet.

I agree with legalizing drugs, however, there's a big unknown: if you get rid of the main profit center of these huge drug gangs, what will they do to keep the money flowing? They're not just going to pack up their bags and leave. There may be major blow-back that we can't really predict. Possibly even more violence, if that could even be imagined. Certainly kidnappings would rise.

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