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“Challengers” releases in theaters on April 26.
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Published April 13, 2024

U.S. hinders legalization

Amid all of the chaos and calamity that the U.S. government is facing, one would imagine it to be a good time to take a step back from international politics. The United States, however, is continuing to use its power to influence other countries. A recent discussion has begun in Canada, Jamaica and Mexico regarding the legalization of marijuana. In Jamaica, one-fifth of the population regularly uses marijuana, and drug lords in Mexico terrorize the poverty stricken people. Canadian jails overflow with marijuana users as experts urge legalization. One of the only reasons the governments are holding back is opposition from the United States. Yet the U.S goal to decrease drug flow from these countries might benefit if these governments legalize marijuana and regulate its trade and sale.

The United States spends more than $17.7 million annually to combat drug trafficking but confiscates no more than 1 percent of all illegal drugs. The U.S. government believes legalization in these countries will flood the marijuana supply to the United States. The United States has threatened to deny Jamaica and Mexico much-needed aid if the proposed laws pass and has exerted diplomatic pressure on Canada. This pressure is very misapplied because the passage of these laws would not necessarily be detrimental to the U.S. drug war.

Most existing laws in these countries regarding the use and sale of marijuana are in title only – they are hardly enforced. Marijuana use is so engrained in Jamaican culture that one religion incorporates its use, and it is sold openly in the streets. In both Jamaica and Mexico, enforcement is akin to excessive violence, often against civilians, and it does little or nothing to ebb the flow of drugs.

The United States shares more than 7,500 miles of border with Mexico and Canada, and patrolling for drugs is as costly as it is futile. Legalization and regulation would make it feasible for these countries to put smuggling in check. By keeping records of the sales and production, less marijuana would be able to seep into the United States. In addition, the power of these governments to tax the use and sale of marijuana could possibly give Mexico and Jamaica a much needed boost to their aid-dependant economies, and it could mitigate the massive power of drug lords.

Drug trade brings in over $400 billion annually, and in order for traders to reduce profitability, 75 percent of the drugs would have to be intercepted. This is clearly a financially impossible task for the U.S. government, and the approach to the drug war needs to be altered. Perhaps the crucial difference could lie in removing pressure from our neighbors and trusting them to regulate the enterprise.

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