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After Cali Indictments, Columnists Advocate Legalization as a Way to Break Drug Cartels and Stem Corruption


September 1995

David Nyhan of the Boston Globe argued in a June 9 column that the U.S. should admit defeat in the "war on drugs" (David Nyhan, "We Lost the War -- Legalize Drugs," Boston Globe, June 9, 1995, p. 23).

Nyhan points to the Cali cartel-related indictments of Miami criminal defense lawyers to highlight corruption in the criminal justice system and the high-level influence of drug money:

The drug war, as waged by every American president within living memory, is over. We lost. So many Americans sniff, inject, swallow, inhale, and imbibe narcotics, and so many foreigners wax rich supplying them, that our government cannot cope. It is too risky a step for any but the most courageous or foolhardy elected official to say so, but the drug war is lost, lost to human nature.

Daniel Morcate, a special correspondent for the Miami Herald, wrote on June 15 that legalization or decriminalization is the only way to deal with the problem of global drug trafficking and the corruption it causes (Daniel Morcate, "Destroy Cartels: Legalize Drugs," Miami Herald, June 15, 1995, p. 23A).

He argues that arrests of cartel figures such as Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela will not stop major drug trafficking organizations. Market forces that drive the illegal drug trade, he wrote, are much too strong for law enforcement to combat:

Unless the civilized world comes to its senses and chooses to decriminalize and regulate illegal narcotics, we will soon be hearing about another 'Latin cartel' that has gained control of X percentage of the world's drug trade. Arresting the Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuelas doesn't eradicate drug trafficking. It merely changes the corrupt (and corrupting) trade's cast of leading characters and the way that they conduct their business.