cross posted at mLaw

A “contribution to humanity” is how Uruguayan President, Jose Mujica, described the courageous step taken by the leaders of Uruguay who agreed earlier this month to fight back against the crime, violence and suffering that has been caused over the course of the ongoing 50-year-log ‘war on drugs’ by repealing prohibition and legalizing cannabis for consumption by adult Uruguayans. Mujica told Agency Press France that the real goal of legalizing cannabis in Uruguay is to eliminate the black market for the substance and consequentially end the savage violence of the drug war.

The history of the world wide drug war, a standoff between criminals who reap billions and militarized police forces who are funded by drug warring nations, can only be viewed as a failure, Mujica told the AFP. In Uruguay, the government spends $80 million a year attempting to stop the cannabis black market that is estimated to be worth between 4 and 5 million dollars per year. “As a business this would be a disaster if you look at it purely from an economic standpoint,” Mujica said, “from a moral point of view, it’s much worse because the violence consumes a lot of people who have nothing to do with it.”

In the US, more than $24.7 billion has been spent so far this year waging the drug war and, over 1 million people have been arrested for drug offenses. The Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a US federal governmental agency, reports that usage of cannabis increased between 2010 and 2012 slightly by 1.1 percent, reflecting that the monies being spent are not achieving the stated goals of drug war enthusiasts in US law enforcement, congress and the White House.

Despite overwhelming evidence that the ‘drug war’ has failed;
on July 25, the Drug Enforcement Agency raided three cannabis pharmacies in Washington state,
on July 31, DEA agents raided a cannabis pharmacy in Michigan, and,
today, August 8, DEA agents raided the oldest cannabis dispensary in Los Angeles.

President Mujica also spoke recently in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba at a memorial celebrating the July 26, 1953 attack on the Moncada barracks that began the Cuban Revolution. In his speech, as reported by Escambray.cu, Mujica said that the rebels who began the overthrow of the Batista regime inspired a “revolution of dignity” across Latin America. “We are convinced”, Mujica said, “that man has the capacity to build a better world, and that fighting capacity must be used to have a world of respect, a world of equality. Human life must be respected, and rich people have to understand and respect the rest of the people”.

Uruguay’s decision to fight drug violence by ending prohibition as an effort by Uruguay’s leaders to “contribute to humanity” reflects Mujica’s commitment to express the capacity of leaders to “build a better world”.

Photo by Jimmy Baikovicius under Creative Commons license