Hillary Clinton on the Drug War

February 1, 2011
By

From an interview in Mexico

QUESTION: Okay. In several occasion, you have recognized that the partial explanation to the violence in Mexico can be found in the elevated drug consumption and the tolerance towards arms selling in your country. The consumption has not diminished. On the contrary, I hear it’s, like, reached a historical maximum and arms selling continue. And it’s very unlikely that it would – this will change. So why would – should we continue giving this battle? And when I say we, it’s like our country, Mexico.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we are making some progress. There has been some decrease in drug use. But more than that, there’s been greater cooperation across the border. We are stopping more people and finding not only drugs, but guns, money for money laundering. We have much better law enforcement cooperation across the border. I don’t think either of us could do this without working with the other. And I don’t think either of us wants to let a drug kingpin and his gang behead people or addict people on either side of the border.

QUESTION: In Mexico, there are those who propose not keeping going with this battle and legalize drug trafficking and consumption. What is your opinion?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I don’t think that will work. I mean, I hear the same debate. I hear it in my country. It is not likely to work. There is just too much money in it, and I don’t think that – you can legalize small amounts for possession, but those who are making so much money selling, they have to be stopped. They can’t be given an even easier road to take, because they will then find it in their interest to addict even more young people. Mexico didn’t have much of a drug problem before the last 10 years, and you want to keep it that way. So you don’t want to give any excuse to the drug traffickers to be able legally to addict young people.

QUESTION: But in the United States there [is] more and more tolerance for marijuana, right?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So this doesn’t seem right. Like the tolerance in the United States, and here we are killing each other for this product.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, the tolerance is in a very limited arena. It is for medical –

QUESTION: Medical use.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Medical use. And there are lots of regulations on it. So it’s not accurate to say, as I’ve heard some say, well, we’re legalizing marijuana. We are not. We are – the biggest – we have more people incarcerated, unfortunately, than any country in the world, and most of them are there because of some drug-related offense. So we know that this is not an easy struggle. We’ve been at it ourselves. But we also believe that you have to keep the pressure on the criminals; otherwise, they will just expand their operations, and then you do have to worry about more corruption, more problems with institutions.

What mindset does it take to keep claiming that legalization means the illegal traffickers get to have the profits?

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Pete Guither is the editor of drugwarrant.com

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