Texas Democrat’s Fall Casts Light on U.S. Drug War
Read it all here.
Few Americans appreciate the grisly Mexican drug war reality better than the residents of El Paso, Texas. Their city is one of the safest in the U.S., but the town just across the Rio Grande - Juárez, Mexico - is the world’s most dangerous, with a murder rate of more than 200 per 100,000 people. El Pasoans are well aware that the Mexican narcos spilling all that blood purchase their high-powered weapons with the more than $30 billion that cartels earn annually trafficking drugs to Americans - the lion’s share of which comes from the sale not of heroin or cocaine or methamphetamine, but marijuana.
Many if not most El Pasoans are also aware that moderate marijuana use is widely (and scientifically) considered no more harmful than moderate alcohol consumption. Legalizing marijuana is therefore a feasible way for the U.S. to help put a sizable dent in the drug cartels’ finances - as well as save money in the U.S., where law enforcement wastes billions of dollars each year prosecuting and incarcerating marijuana offenders. Which is why, three years ago, El Paso City Council members like Beto O’Rourke voted unanimously to ask Washington to consider legalizing more benign drugs like marijuana. “If you live on the border,” O’Rourke told me then, “you see that the old drug-war emperor has no clothes.” El Paso mayor John Cook vetoed the resolution, but the council was set to override him - until U.S. Representative Silvestre Reyes, an El Paso County Democrat, forced it to back off with threats that the city would lose federal funding.
On Tuesday, it was voters in Texas’ 16th congressional district who forced out Reyes, an eight-term incumbent, in the Democratic primary. The winner: Beto O’Rourke, the same guy who led the call for pot legalization.
Beto O’Rourke co-wrote a book about the case for legalizing marijuana, which I read and recommend: Dealing Death and Drugs: The Big Business of Dope in the U.S. and Mexico.