“The reign of tears is over. The slums will soon be a memory. We will turn our prisons into factories…. Men will walk upright, women will smile and children will laugh….”—The Rev. Billy Sunday, 1920, welcoming Prohibition with open armsAs you probably know, a multi-front war is currently being waged over drug distribution routes in Tijuana. More than 400 people have been killed in TJ since January, nearly 4,000 in all of Mexico and untold numbers throughout the U.S. as Mexican-cartel-related violence seeps over to our side of the border.
Tijuana's main drug syndicate is led by the Arellano-Felix family, which is battling other gangs and the police for control of the highly strategic border city. In the last month, violence has grown increasingly more vicious with kidnappings, torture, executions and full-blown, gun-blazing street battles, all of which tell me that now, more than ever, we need to stop this idiotic war on drugs.
Now, I know some folk say that it's not the so-called war on drugs that causes this violence; rather, it's the narcotics user who is to blame, because he or she creates the demand. I know of some people who believe that my own purchase of drugs is just as bad as if I were pulling the trigger. And, yes, emotionally, there is a part of me that agonizes about my level of culpability for those bloody travesties, but, intellectually, my gut reaction is to say, “No way, José! You cannot pin that shit on me.”
Is it my consumption of illegal substances that creates a black market? Or is it the arbitrary prohibition of them?Put another way, which came first, the bong or the bongload?
The way I see it, all drugs were born legal: Alcohol, cannabis, opium, meth, cocaine, ibuprofen, caffeine, steroids, mezcal, mescaline—all of that stuff was legal first, and then, somewhere along the line, some humorless member of the Morality Brigade decided he or she knew better than you do about which consumables were not OK to use and endeavored to take them away from you, with varying degrees of success.
This is the reason people are dying in the streets of Tijuana—not my appetite for narcotics. How do I know this? I know because if I stopped doing drugs tomorrow, nobody would notice and the violence would rage on. But if all drugs were legalized tomorrow, the cartel wars would abruptly halt, and only then, in the words of the Rev. Sunday, would the “reign of tears truly be over.”
One merely need look back in our history to see what an enormous waste of blood and treasure is prohibition. Sadly, Americans are really terrible at learning from history. It seems like history is always trying to teach us stuff, but we're too cool to pay attention. We're like that snotty high-school student who spends the whole time in class drawing pictures of naked boobies in his notebook instead of listening to what's being taught. And the lesson history has been trying to teach us is that prohibition does not work. When the 18th Amendment was passed, America's shit got worse: Arrests for drunk and disorderly conduct increased, thefts and burglaries increased, homicides and assaults increased and federal prison populations increased. And don't even get me started on organized crime. Not only did prohibition bolster organized crime, not only did it organize organized crime—it was prohibition that invented organized crime.
Despite the Rev. Sunday's prediction about an alcohol-free utopia (silly reverends—is there anything you don't get wrong?), violence grew increasingly more vicious with kidnappings, torture, executions and full-blown, gun-blazing battles on the streets of Chicago, the hub of the bootleg trade. And that right there is history trying to teach us something. And what history is trying to teach us is that there is little difference between the alcohol prohibition of the 1920s and the narcotics prohibition of today. But the powers that be just draw boobies on their notebooks and never hear what history is teaching.
So, no, I will not be blamed for the bodies that are piling up on the streets of TJ. I will not lose sleep for eating psychedelic mushrooms. I will not feel guilt for filling my glass pipe with weed any more than anybody else feels guilt about filling their vehicles with gasoline. And I will not despair if I purchase an 8-ball of coke for Vegas so that I can share it with the strippers, whom I will not feel guilty about paying to have sex with.
No, I feel guilty about wasting food and water. I feel guilty about those times I don't recycle. I feel guilty if I keep a $5 tip from a drunk customer who thought he gave me a single. There are plenty of things to feel guilty about in this world, but for me, sucking down a bong hit after a hard day's work will never be one of them.Write to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. For more syrup, please visit www.edwindecker.com.