This is a special guest blog by SSDP intern and UMD SSDP chapter member, Greg Hansch
The Boston Globe recently released a grisly series of photos that portray many of the the negative consequences associated with drugs. Some photos show drug addicts living in meager conditions or attempting to piece their lives back together. Others depict people who were murdered as a result of their involvement in the drug trade. A third variety contains images of law enforcement attempting to eradicate drugs.
For proponents of the drug war, these images reinforce their narrow understanding: Drugs are harmful. Therefore, our public policies need to combat this scourge with punitive laws. And in one respect, they are right: drug abuse is a devastating problem for people all around the world.
However, drug war supporters fail to recognize that prohibition exacerbates the negative impact of drugs. Most of the murder victims shown were drug dealers killed in turf struggles with rival cartels. These murders currently plague Mexico because prohibition has made drug trafficking a massively profitable illicit industry. Cartels (who count on marijuana for 60% of their profits) are willing to use lethal force in order to secure their smuggling routes and distribution territories.
Law enforcement agencies around the world are engaged in an endless struggle to rid the world of drugs. Despite their efforts, drugs are still available all over the world and murder is commonplace among drug traffickers.
These graphic images are disturbing but necessary for our movement. They clearly illustrate that decades of drug prohibition have led to uncontrollable violence in Mexico, addicts who are unable to find treatment, and fruitless attempts at stopping the drug trade. Every day, more and more people are starting to interpret these images as a product of drug prohibition rather than drugs themselves.
I recommend you look at these photos and consider, "what terrible consequences are we willing to tolerate in the name of our ill-fated War on Drugs?" Supporters of our current drug laws need to own the horrible unintended consequences their preferred policy creates, and the general public needs to be cognisant of the multi-faceted, international consequences of the Drug War.