The US War on Certain Plants

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I’m leaving Mexico.

No, it’s not because I’ve been robbed, beaten, or kidnapped by the drug cartels. And it’s not because some corrupt policias tried to shake me down, because I contracted swine flu, or that beheaded bodies were left in the street outside of my hotel.

Honestly, I’m really enjoying it down here and would like to stay, but I have some important meetings in New York later this week, so I will unfortunately be headed north to brave the cold weather and even colder reception at US immigration.

Before I leave Mexico, though, I want to address the elephant in the room: Mexico’s infamous drug war, probably the most sensationalized, misunderstood issue played out in North American media, right between Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan.

The bottom line is that two governments decided long ago that drugs are a problem and that they need to do something about it. On one hand, the Mexican government expects the US to reduce demand, and on the other hand, the US government expects Mexico to curtail supply.

There are three major problems with this logic.

First is that the governments think they can force the reduction of something that quasi-literally grows on trees. Marijuana and cocaine are more easily grown than Ben Bernanke’s balance sheet – they’d have better luck reducing the supply of stupidity and hypocrisy in Washington.

What most people don’t realize is that they’ve carpet-bombed half of Colombia with herbicides so nasty (thank you, Monsanto) that they make Agent Orange look like a stick of deodorant. And yet, the cartels still find plenty of land to increase their productive capacity.

Fighting a multi-decades war against plants is just a dumb idea, ranking up there with other such gems as spending our way out of recession, borrowing our way out of debt, and invading other countries to reduce hatred against America.

The second problem is that these governments actually expect to be able to suppress demand. This is nonsense.

There will always be certain personalities who will seek out the high of recreational drugs despite the consequences. Similarly, there are certain personalities who will gamble despite the losses, seek adrenaline rushes despite the risks, or eat Big Macs despite what the bathroom scale says.

To those personalities, their desires are as natural as the instinct to breathe.

There’s no great mystery in the world about the effects of recreational drugs. As dealers say, ‘drugs sell themselves’. Drug users accept the risks because they think the benefits are greater, or they’re psychologically and/or chemically addicted to the product.

This is no different than people who’ve become addicted to aspartame (Diet Coke), prescription pills, sex, booze, exercise, cigarettes, work, shopping, anger, pain, video games, junk food, etc. The chemical and psychological dependencies don’t vanish just because the government decrees it.

The third problem is that the governments even began with the false premise that recreational drugs are a problem and should be prohibited. This is intellectually dishonest: governments sanction all sorts of drug use.

The US government says, for example, that nicotine, high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, alcohol, Viagra, aspartame, Prozac, and Yellow #5 are OK, but raw milk, Cuban cigars, marijuana, human growth hormone, and chocolate Kinder eggs are not OK.

Look, I’m not trying to be anti-alcohol or pro-Kinder egg, but the notion that government agencies should be able to choose which substances we grown adults are and are not allowed to buy and ingest is rather anachronistic. And they do a horrible job at it, anyhow.

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