A Madness No More

Reefer Madness. That was the title of a popular 1936 film, one of a series depicting in grim detail all the horrors of marijuana from bad dreams and hallucinations to suicide and murder. You name it, marijuana caused it. As a result, one state after another outlawed it and Harry Anslinger, commissioner of the newly created Federal Bureau of Narcotic Control, declared it responsible for “insanity, criminality and death.”

We have come a long way from that prognosis. Today marijuana is the world’s most popular drug, a dramatic change in both attitude and law. Eighteen states in the U.S. have now legalized marijuana and 38 approved its medical use. It’s considered no worse than alcohol which is freely used, maybe a little better. It’s certainly preferable to the harder drugs like Fentanyl which is fifty times more potent than marijuana. Legalization is not entire. Prohibitions remain on excessive personal use, dealing in the drug or involving minors. But for normal everyday consumers, seeking recreation and relief, it’s time to celebrate.

Not for the Mexican drug cartels. They have said all along that legalization of marijuana is more damaging to them than law enforcement. That seems to be the case. For the moment, more drugs than ever are crossing the US. border thanks to a relaxation of rules in Washington, but in general marijuana deliveries are way down along with their price. Since marijuana amounts to about half of their business, they could be in serious trouble.

They have been scrambling to compensate, switching to harder drugs like fentanyl which was largely responsible for the record 93,331 American deaths from overdose last year. They have branched out into human trafficking and are forcing migrants to pay to cross the border which they completely control on the Mexican side.

Now they have invaded the U.S., starting hundreds of marijuana farms in southern California that will let them continue to profit from the drug. How they managed to avoid U.S.authorities in this extensive enterprise on U.S. soil is a major question. Are their farms a Mexican version of the sanctuary cities popular in California? Though they don’t make the official U.S. list of terrorists, they are terrorizing Americans the way they do Mexicans. When a couple of hikers got too close to a farm, a worker appeared with a picture of a bullet-ridden truck with a dead driver inside and warned: “This what will happen to you if you come back out again.”  

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Photo: Steve Petteway/Courtesy of the Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

Since these farms are not in Mexico but in the U.S., it’s assumed that U.S. law enforcement, once galvanized, can root them out in a timely fashion. Then as soon as possible the remaining states should complete legalization and resolve contradictions with the U.S. Government. As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas notes in a recent statement, it doesn’t make sense for the federal government to continue to enforce laws against marijuana that have been eliminated by the states. “The federal government’s current approach is a half-in, half-out regime that simultaneously tolerates and forbids local use of marijuana. “

Once this is accomplished, the harried cartels will face a marijuana wall of consumerism that could enfeeble them to the benefit of both the U.S. and Mexico.

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