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lethe

medical marijuana

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FINALLY!!! There is a group here in my state trying to get the Medicinal use of Marijuana on the next ballot. If anyone has a friend or relative in Arkansas that is a registered voter, please pass along this link to them.

Arkansans for Compassionate Care ...is a coalition of concerned physicians, patients, and allies who agree that sick and dying patients should have access to medical marijuana with a doctor's recommendation.

 

Thanks!

Cynthia

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I just have a hard time believing pot is all that good medically. Maybe it is because of my memories... like this song.

 

[media]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fphDnT36W4w[/media

 

 

rolleyes.gif

 

If it wasn't all that good medically, then why would the US Government go through the trouble of getting a patent on it for it's medicinal use??

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If it wasn't all that good medically, then why would the US Government go through the trouble of getting a patent on it for it's medicinal use??

 

The government does lots of stupid things.

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Seems to me marijuana is helpful to many with certain medical conditions. Can the same be said for legal substances like tobacco and alcoholl? It also seems that there are plenty of legal medications that are far more dangerous.

 

Legal status has little to do with safety or efficacy it seems - I just read that if aspirin were being trialled today it would never get FDA approval due to its side effect profile - platelet inactivation, stomach ulcers, high incidence of allergy, Reyes syndrome...

 

I always think its a shame when people can't get relief from what ails them, and in the case of marijuana, I just can't figure out how people think it's any different from other drugs that are legal. Coffee is more risky I think - caffeine addiction, tachycardia, diarrhea, bad breath...

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Kim it is so good to hear from you!

 

Yes it can be used for people with medical conditions, but all drugs are not harmless (like aspirin) they must be used properly.

 

I would say that the illegal status of pot does say something about pot's effects on people / culture. I personally think all recreational drug usage is not good for anyone... alcohol included.

 

As far as coffee being "more risky"... more risky than smoking pot?

Smoking Marijuana Doubles Risk of Fatal Accidents

Larger Doses Can Triple the Risk, Study Finds

http://alcoholism.ab...pot_driving.htm

Drinking lot's of coffee does not do the same thing.

Good to know you are well.

Edited by Luthersfaith

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If we were to make all drugs that can be abused for recreational purposes illegal....say goodbye to every 'legal' painkiller currently on the market. Most if not all of which are far more dangerous and more abused than marijuana.

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While federal agents swooped in Monday morning to search Oaksterdam University in Oakland, the state’s first cannabis industry training school, across town a gunman opened fire inside a private Christian university, killing at least two people and injuring six.

 

IF the feds spent more time on real law enforcement and less time on the endless ineffective war on drugs, maybe our schools would be safer.

 

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/04/02/BABJ1NTM3Q.DTL#ixzz1qujsTX4Y

http://blog.norml.org/2012/04/02/federal-agents-with-dea-irs-raid-marijuana-trade-school-oaksterdam-university/

 

Edited to add,....

UPDATE: Police confirm five people are dead and suspect is in custody after shooting at Christian university in Oakland, California.

 

How sad :(

Wonder how many people died from the use of marijuana in Oakland this morning?

Edited by CynthiaM

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According to the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an estimated 2.4 million Americans used prescription drugs non-medically for the first time within the past year, which averages to approximately 6,600 initiates per day.

 

According to the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2.4 million Americans aged 12 or older used marijuana for the first time in the 12 months prior to being surveyed.

 

How many people died from the use of prescription drugs? According to the CDC, Prescription painkiller overdoses killed nearly 15,000 people in the US in 2008.(The last year that had the numbers available.) Those 15,000 were people that died from overdoses only. If you added in all of the people killed in accidents while under the influence, the number goes much higher.

 

How many people died from the use of marijuana?

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Medical marijuana, which is what this topic is about, is hardly recreational. Of course there are some who take advantage of the system, but that is certainly not limited to marijuana. There are plenty of legal prescription drugs that have far more serious and/or dangerous side effects than marijuana.

 

You appear to be stuck in the "if it's legal it must be aafe and if it's illegal it must be dangerous" mindset, which in reality is quite far from the truth. Some people will always use things other than as directed - even cars for example. Drive over the speed limit? Or milk - drink it after the "best by" date? Once there is a role or limitation on anything that rule is bound to be broken.

 

But back on topic - look closely. Legality of drugs is not a safety barometer.

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1333407174[/url]' post='47174']

Medical marijuana, which is what this topic is about, is hardly recreational. Of course there are some who take advantage of the system, but that is certainly not limited to marijuana. There are plenty of legal prescription drugs that have far more serious and/or dangerous side effects than marijuana.

 

You appear to be stuck in the "if it's legal it must be aafe and if it's illegal it must be dangerous" mindset, which in reality is quite far from the truth. Some people will always use things other than as directed - even cars for example. Drive over the speed limit? Or milk - drink it after the "best by" date? Once there is a role or limitation on anything that rule is bound to be broken.

 

But back on topic - look closely. Legality of drugs is not a safety barometer.

 

You are correct.

 

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You are correct.

 

If she is correct, and we all know that millions of people already use marijuana in a recreational manner, regardless of the legality....why can't patients use it legally under a doctor's supervision? Where is the logic?

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I have another question. For those of you that are parents/grandparents, IF a teenager or young adult that you know and love was going to use 1)a prescription drug, 2)alcohol or 3)marijuana in an abusive manner for recreational purposes, which would you rather see them using? I am not saying I'd ever condone or encourage any of the above. After raising 5 children into adulthood, I know that at some point no matter what you want, or what you taught your children and no matter how much you pray, there comes a time where you can't determine the path that another person will choose.

 

To answer my own question, I'd have to say I'd choose the 3rd. Some of my reasoning would be, that I've never known of anyone getting under the influence of marijuana and then beating their kid half to death, plenty of alcoholics do just that. As a former EMT I saw first hand what a prescription drug overdose can do. I never had a patient that overdosed on marijuana. Also never worked a vehicle accident where we said "oh they wrecked because they were smoking marijuana" but had a lot of drunk drivers. Also alcohol often gets mixed with marijuana and/or prescription drugs. The mixture of alcohol and prescription drugs can be lethal all by itself, no auto accident needed. I don't think you could say the same thing about mixing alcohol and marijuana.

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I have another question. For those of you that are parents/grandparents, IF a teenager or young adult that you know and love was going to use 1)a prescription drug, 2)alcohol or 3)marijuana in an abusive manner for recreational purposes, which would you rather see them using? I am not saying I'd ever condone or encourage any of the above. After raising 5 children into adulthood, I know that at some point no matter what you want, or what you taught your children and no matter how much you pray, there comes a time where you can't determine the path that another person will choose.

 

To answer my own question, I'd have to say I'd choose the 3rd. Some of my reasoning would be, that I've never known of anyone getting under the influence of marijuana and then beating their kid half to death, plenty of alcoholics do just that. As a former EMT I saw first hand what a prescription drug overdose can do. I never had a patient that overdosed on marijuana. Also never worked a vehicle accident where we said "oh they wrecked because they were smoking marijuana" but had a lot of drunk drivers. Also alcohol often gets mixed with marijuana and/or prescription drugs. The mixture of alcohol and prescription drugs can be lethal all by itself, no auto accident needed. I don't think you could say the same thing about mixing alcohol and marijuana.

 

 

"He (GOD) makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for people to cultivate—bringing forth food from the earth:

wine that gladdens human hearts, oil to make their faces shine, and bread that sustains their hearts." Psalm 104:14-15

Edited by Luthersfaith

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Perhaps a basic and/or stupid question: have people found relief of their PD symptoms by using med maj. if yes which ones and how have you used it (smoked, ingested, pills). What sort of side effects? What frequency of use? Etc I.e advice in general

 

I have significant pain issues from my pd. I hate opiates but need to use a 50mcg fentynal patch + OxyContin for break through. Because maj is not legal I have no way to find information about how to use in relation to my pd. any advice of where to look. I am less interested in the debate about legality as I don't have enough knowledge about the benefits. I believe all drugs should be evaluated based on their fit for purpose relative to the symptoms they are supposed to control. No different to FDA approved meds.

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G’Day Nospringsaussie and welcome to the group. I’ve had PD (physical symptoms) for about 12 years - I’m 56. Up until 4 years ago my physical symptoms were minor and not easily noticed. Slight tremor on my right side, leg and arm. Loss of some dexterity in right hand. Lethargy and anxiety. Four years ago I had a very bad physical and psychotic reaction from Mirapex or another med and ended up in Intensive Care for 3 days, and a second time in the hospital. For three or four months I had very limited mobility, no use of right hand, wore a cathater, etc . Although I’ve made good recovery I have a wide variety of new symptoms.

 

Please read this thread from the start and view the films as they will explain much. MM (medical marijuana) works both on the general health system and specific symptoms. Lets start with the basics - eat and sleep. The basis of good health.

 

Appetite stimulant. - The first thing MM became known for (during AIDS epidemic) and is well recognized now is it’s ability to give sick people an appetite, helping to gain weight in wasting diseases. Without it I have no appetite.

 

Sleep - Since my bad med reaction I am lucky to sleep 3 or 4 hours a night. The right indica strains of MM greatly help sleep, sometimes longer, but always deeper. If I’m without MM for a long time, at least every month or two I will have insomnia and not sleep a wink for 3 or 4 days.

 

Relaxes bladder - After my bad med reaction I was urinating every 2 hours or less. MM helps relax the bladder. In fact, now I can wake up without needing to necessarily go to the washroom and go back to sleep.

 

Eases tremors - it takes about a month or two of daily use to lessen tremors. Without MM I shake all the time when awake. With MM I get frequent periods of no shaking or little shaking. I had read that Drs doing research in Czek noticed this.

 

(something I posted recently-begin)

Pain relief, Dystonia and MM

 

The last few weeks have been especially difficult as I’ve been dealing with the pain from a kink in my neck and don’t sleep more than 1 or 2 hours at a time. I got a stiff neck from falling asleep improperly about 3 months ago but it started loosening up a few weeks ago, but as layer upon layer loosens I get pain, and a few times this week had difficulty and great pain getting out of bed and moving around, but I’m feeling better now and hope the worst is over.

 

On the positive side I made 2 discoveries: The first discovery is a MM strain that really works on pain, rather than masking it. Normally I don’t have that many pain issues (except for dystonia) but have found that most MM helps lessen pain indirectly- usually by lessening the focus on the pain. Recently on my MM club forum some people were saying how effective the latest batch of M-39 is. Normally I mix M-39 with other strains. Remembering this and being in exceptional pain I decided to vaporize it alone. Within 10 minutes all pain was gone, not a hint and it lasted for about 3 hours. It is called M-39 because of it’s exceptionally quick maturing - 39 days!

 

The 2nd discovery was that MM (most strains) helps alleviate dystonia. I take my last levadopa at 6 pm and don’t start again until 6 am. Anytime after 10 or 11 pm my foot may start cramping and it gets progressively worse. Normally I don’t sleep more than 3 or 4 hours a night, and so I really try not to go to sleep until 1 or 2 am so that I can sleep until close to 6am, minimizing dystonia. Up until the last month when I would get up at 4 or 5 am I would wait until 6am to vaporize MM, having it with my coffee and meds, but this month my sleep was disturbed so much and also the pain that I would medicate with MM when I got up, anytime between 1am - 5am..

 

Dystonia (levadopa responsive) causes my left foot to cramp so that I have to walk either on my toes or my heels and it gets worse until I take my pills. What I found was that within 10 minutes of vaping MM my foot would relax and I could walk normally. This lasted a few hours and the only thing that would start the dystonia again was if I started thinking stressful thoughts, but if I made a point of relaxing the dystonia would go away again. MM relaxes the cramp. It was only after realizing this that I came across this Wikipedia reference:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dystonia

 

Medication

 

“Different medications are tried in an effort to find a combination that is effective for a specific person. Not all people will respond well to the same medications. Medications that have had positive results in some include: diphenhydramine, benzatropine, anti-Parkinsons agents ( such as trihexyphenidyl), and muscle relaxers (such as diazepam).

 

Cannabidiol, one of the non-psychoactive cannabinoids found in cannabis sativa, was shown in a 6-week study to have reduced dystonic symptoms in all participants by up to 20-50%.[14][15]” (End)

 

Psychological: anxiety, lethargy, depression.

MM is a great relaxer, easing or eliminating anxiety. It helps with positive thoughts and a slight uplifting feeling. It also helps motivate and psychological energize.

 

I use a vaporize every 4 to 7 hours. I use different strains depending on need and time of day.

 

I will add to this when I remember something. Feel free to ask questions....

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G’Day Nospringsaussie and welcome to the group. I’ve had PD (physical symptoms) for about 12 years - I’m 56. Up until 4 years ago my physical symptoms were minor and not easily noticed. Slight tremor on my right side, leg and arm. Loss of some dexterity in right hand. Lethargy and anxiety. Four years ago I had a very bad physical and psychotic reaction from Mirapex or another med and ended up in Intensive Care for 3 days, and a second time in the hospital. For three or four months I had very limited mobility, no use of right hand, wore a cathater, etc . Although I’ve made good recovery I have a wide variety of new symptoms.

 

Please read this thread from the start and view the films as they will explain much. MM (medical marijuana) works both on the general health system and specific symptoms. Lets start with the basics - eat and sleep. The basis of good health.

 

Appetite stimulant. - The first thing MM became known for (during AIDS epidemic) and is well recognized now is it’s ability to give sick people an appetite, helping to gain weight in wasting diseases. Without it I have no appetite.

 

Sleep - Since my bad med reaction I am lucky to sleep 3 or 4 hours a night. The right indica strains of MM greatly help sleep, sometimes longer, but always deeper. If I’m without MM for a long time, at least every month or two I will have insomnia and not sleep a wink for 3 or 4 days.

 

Relaxes bladder - After my bad med reaction I was urinating every 2 hours or less. MM helps relax the bladder. In fact, now I can wake up without needing to necessarily go to the washroom and go back to

Eases tremors - it takes about a month or two of daily use to lessen tremors. Without MM I shake all the time when awake. With MM I get frequent periods of no shaking or little shaking. I had read that Drs doing research in Czek noticed this.

 

(something I posted recently-begin)

Pain relief, Dystonia and MM

 

The last few weeks have been especially difficult as I’ve been dealing with the pain from a kink in my neck and don’t sleep more than 1 or 2 hours at a time. I got a stiff neck from falling asleep improperly about 3 months ago but it started loosening up a few weeks ago, but as layer upon layer loosens I get pain, and a few times this week had difficulty and great pain getting out of bed and moving around, but I’m feeling better now and hope the worst is over.

 

On the positive side I made 2 discoveries: The first discovery is a MM strain that really works on pain, rather than masking it. Normally I don’t have that many pain issues (except for dystonia) but have found that most MM helps lessen pain indirectly- usually by lessening the focus on the pain. Recently on my MM club forum some people were saying how effective the latest batch of M-39 is. Normally I mix M-39 with other strains. Remembering this and being in exceptional pain I decided to vaporize it alone. Within 10 minutes all pain was gone, not a hint and it lasted for about 3 hours. It is called M-39 because of it’s exceptionally quick maturing - 39 days!

 

The 2nd discovery was that MM (most strains) helps alleviate dystonia. I take my last levadopa at 6 pm and don’t start again until 6 am. Anytime after 10 or 11 pm my foot may start cramping and it gets progressively worse. Normally I don’t sleep more than 3 or 4 hours a night, and so I really try not to go to sleep until 1 or 2 am so that I can sleep until close to 6am, minimizing dystonia. Up until the last month when I would get up at 4 or 5 am I would wait until 6am to vaporize MM, having it with my coffee and meds, but this month my sleep was disturbed so much and also the pain that I would medicate with MM when I got up, anytime between 1am - 5am..

 

Dystonia (levadopa responsive) causes my left foot to cramp so that I have to walk either on my toes or my heels and it gets worse until I take my pills. What I found was that within 10 minutes of vaping MM my foot would relax and I could walk normally. This lasted a few hours and the only thing that would start the dystonia again was if I started thinking stressful thoughts, but if I made a point of relaxing the dystonia would go away again. MM relaxes the cramp. It was only after realizing this that I came across this Wikipedia reference:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dystonia

 

Medication

 

“Different medications are tried in an effort to find a combination that is effective for a specific person. Not all people will respond well to the same medications. Medications that have had positive results in some include: diphenhydramine, benzatropine, anti-Parkinsons agents ( such as trihexyphenidyl), and muscle relaxers (such as diazepam).

 

Cannabidiol, one of the non-psychoactive cannabinoids found in cannabis sativa, was shown in a 6-week study to have reduced dystonic symptoms in all participants by up to 20-50%.[14][15]” (End)

 

Psychological: anxiety, lethargy, depression.

MM is a great relaxer, easing or eliminating anxiety. It helps with positive thoughts and a slight uplifting feeling. It also helps motivate and psychological energize.

 

I use a vaporize every 4 to 7 hours. I use different strains depending on need and time of day.

 

I will add to this when I remember something. Feel free to ask questions....

 

Firstly thanks for the background and comprehensive reply. I am glad for you that you have had relief from so many symptoms. It is clearly a complex topic. A couple of follow up points:

1. Regarding the efficacy of mm as a treatment option: I looked at a few of the you tube posts and it appears that the medical focus appears to be on a few specific areas of neurological outcomes. At least where I could stretch my little Aussie brain around the breadth of discussion.

2. IMHO there is also significant confusion around this topic. Based on my experience i tend to be cautious of "cure all" outcomes - I have been disappointed in the past when trying to get the same outcomes for myself. Perhaps I missed this part of the discussion but I could not find any background on Pharmacieutical companies driving/lobbying from this traditionally lobby ready industry to move the govn on this issue. Let's not forget that the FDA is not without bias and is subject to influence. I also don't get why my money grubbing friends in the pharma industry aren't all over mm if it has such broad appeal and offers such a range symptom relief.

 

In my own experience suffering with PD for the past 4 years is that maj was somewhat helpful when I could no longer stand the pain and needed to separate my brain from my body it was a helpful alternative to opioids. I struggled however, with the blunting side effects. If it is to be legalized, again IMHO there needs to be some help from big pharma to get the recipe right.

 

Lethe your knowledge of the strains, usage and efficacy paths in general is amazing and helpful; big pharma could leverage your insight.

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http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/1157103--why-latin-america-is-looking-to-legalize-cocaine?bn=1

 

Why Latin America is looking at legalizing cocaine

By Oakland Ross

 

What does celebrated Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa have in common with the president of Guatemala and the editors of The Economist magazine, not to mention a century-old U.S. toothache remedy?

 

Simple: legal cocaine.

 

The Peruvian is for it, as is Guatemalan leader Otto Perez, as well as a growing assembly of influential Latin Americans.

 

I think it is important for us to have other alternatives. ... ” Perez told CNN en Español earlier this year. “We have to talk about decriminalization of the production, the transit and, of course, the consumption.”

 

As for The Economist, the venerable British publication has long advocated removing criminal sanctions from cocaine, arguing this is the only way to reduce the otherwise relentless toll of death, corruption and social disintegration the drug has engendered on account of being illegal.

 

On April 14 and 15, heads of state and government from across the Americas, including U.S. President Barack Obama, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and their Latin American and Caribbean counterparts, will gather for a two-day summit in Cartagena, Colombia, and the so-called war on drugs will figure near the top of their agenda — for one overriding reason.

 

It isn’t working.

 

In Mexico alone, more than 50,000 people have perished in a violent campaign against narcotics that began five years ago, when President Felipe Calderón threw down the gauntlet in a do-or-die battle against Mexico’s mighty drug cartels.

 

Since then, some parts of Mexican territory have degenerated into lawless, quasi-feudal regions where criminals exert as much influence as the state. Basic human rights protections have been weakened or abandoned altogether. Law-abiding folk have fled or now dwell in fear. Thousands of people have simply disappeared. And the cocaine trade? It marches on, as insidious and profitable as ever.

 

In the makeshift republics of Central America, the situation is even worse, while Colombia, Peru and Bolivia — the main cocaine-producing nations — are also obliged to suffer the corrosive effects of the narcotics trade.

 

“Organized crime is our reality,” says José Gil Olmos, a reporter for the Mexican newsmagazine Proceso. “It’s a Medusa.”

 

All this, thanks to a leafy and otherwise harmless shrub endemic to South America, called coca, from which cocaine is refined.

 

Oh, and that toothache remedy?

 

Roughly a century ago, the Lloyd Manufacturing Co. in the United States produced a treatment for oral complaints that promised an “instantaneous cure,” sold for just 15 cents a package, and whose principal ingredient was none other than cocaine.

 

Many such products were available back then, for the simple reason that cocaine used to be legal in the United States and Canada, as were opium and marijuana. The makers of Bayer pharmaceutical products marketed a cough remedy derived from heroin.

 

Coca-Cola owed its trademark kick to the presence of a discreet dash of cocaine in each and every bottle.

 

Somehow, civilized society managed to survive these substances, when they were legal.

 

Now they are illegal — and witness the result.

 

The international trade in narcotics has become a massive criminal enterprise that corrupts police forces, cripples judicial systems and undermines the integrity of entire states, against a backdrop of ruthless violence.

 

“For the first time, there is widespread recognition that present policies have failed and there need to be new alternatives,” says Coletta Youngers, a senior fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America, a privately funded think-tank. “Latin American countries have basically forced the U.S. into agreeing to discuss other alternatives, including legalization.”

 

Nobody expects the Barack Obama administration to turn its back on a century-old U.S. regimen of strict narcotics prohibition — or certainly not soon, and especially not in an election year — but Latin Americans have spent decades paying for that regimen with cash, criminality and blood, and they have just about run out of patience.

 

“The administration is well aware that the debate on drug legalization is roaring like an express train,” says Larry Birns, director of the Washington-based Council on Hemispheric Affairs. “It’s not going to be easily stopped.”

 

For its part, Canada seems to be no more forward-looking on the narcotics file than is Washington.

 

“The Canadian approach is simple,” says Marcel Martel, a history professor at York University and an expert on organized crime. “It’s repression. Stephen Harper hasn’t indicated he plans to revisit the way Canada handles illegal drug use.”

 

But leaders in many Latin American capitals have been forced by circumstance to do precisely that, or else watch their countries degenerate into narco-republics, governed by fear, payola and hit men, a slide already well under way in some cases.

 

Desperate for solutions, many Latin Americans now favour legalizing cocaine and other drugs, including heroin, ecstasy and marijuana. That, they argue, would put the drug traffickers out of business.

 

But would it? Even assuming such a measure were politically feasible — a huge assumption in the case of the United States and Canada — would legalizing narcotics somehow solve a problem that has so far resisted all other strategies?

 

Many experts insist it would not, or not on its own.

 

“Those who favour legalization say, if you legalize, then the criminals will be bankrupt,” says Vanda Felbab-Brown, a U.S. expert on the global drug trade and author of Shooting Up: Counterinsurgency and the War on Drugs. “That’s a hugely optimistic outlook.”

 

For one thing, the feuding drug cartels would not simply ride off into a peaceful retirement if their main sources of revenue were to be stripped from the criminal code.

 

“Drugs are not the only illegal activity in Mexico,” says Carlos Adolfo Gutiérrez Vidal, director of the school of communications at the University of the Cloister of Sister Juana in Mexico City.

 

Even now, the narcotraficantes supplement their earnings from drugs with other revenue streams, including human trafficking, kidnapping, extortion, auto theft and contract killing, among others. Legalizing narcotics would not reduce those activities.

 

In fact, says Felbab-Brown, the measure might well cause increased violence, because criminal organizations would need to compete that much harder for control of their remaining businesses or to develop new sources of income.

 

Some experts are promoting a third course that would more or less tolerate drug trafficking without making it legal, a compromise similar to the so-called Pax Mafiosa that prevails in parts of Italy.

 

Under such an arrangement, the drug trade would remain formally illegal but would face little government interference, as long as the cartels dramatically reduced present levels of violence.

 

“I think people would prefer this,” says Gil Olmos at Proceso.

 

Felbab-Brown thinks otherwise.

 

That sort of accommodation, she says, is effectively the system that prevailed in Mexico from the 1940s until the 1980s, a time when the country was ruled by the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which operated in those days as a sort of corporate dictatorship headed by an all-powerful presidency.

 

She believes the arrangement worked then because the criminal ringleaders genuinely feared the PRI. But times have changed, and Felbab-Brown doubts the old entente between Mexico’s politicians and its drug lords can or should be restored.

 

“I do not believe a deal is achievable or even wise. It was precisely this deal that compromised the police and the judicial system in Mexico.”

 

The situation is even more parlous in Central America, where small states with frail institutions are largely helpless before the drug lords, whose activities they barely try to curtail.

 

Instead, corrupt and incompetent police forces spend their days and nights rounding up shiftless youths on minor or trumped-up charges and cramming them into overcrowded prisons, merely worsening an already grim state of affairs.

 

“Those prisons are universities for delinquents,” says Javier Martinez, outgoing mayor of the Salvadoran town of Suchitoto. “These are not criminals. They don’t represent a threat to society.”

 

Not now, maybe. But chances are they will.

 

Clearly, such measures are not working.

 

Martel at York University says they have never worked. In one form or another, the war on drugs has been waged for more than a century, he says, ever since the early 1900s, when U.S. and Canadian authorities succumbed to pressure from radical Christian groups and declared opium illegal.

 

Cocaine was banned a few years later and marijuana in the 1920s.

 

All these embargoes sprang in part from a racist motivation, says Martel, because the drugs were depicted as an external menace, foisted upon God-fearing white North Americans by Chinese or Hispanic “aliens.”

 

Alcohol was prohibited, too. But that ban was suspended in 1933 and for a simple reason — it didn’t work.

 

The sanctions against narcotics have been no more effective, yet they have remained in place.

 

“The U.S. and Canada have enrolled the rest of the world in their crusade against drugs,” says Martel.

 

At least some Latin American governments have concluded that the crusade has gone on long enough. It’s time to try something else.

 

But, if criminal penalties have failed, if legalization is not the answer, and if a Pax Mafiosa won’t work either, then what is left?

 

According to Felbab-Brown, there is no quick fix but only a sustained and tortuous exercise in state-building — the gradual creation of effective police forces, judicial systems and other institutions in countries where those agencies are now so deeply emaciated by fear and graft that they barely function.

 

“This will be an enormous project for Mexico and an order of magnitude greater for Central America,” she says. “We really need to think of organized crime as a competition in state-making.”

 

Unfortunately, it’s the drug lords who enjoy the preponderance of money, guns and savagery. They won’t go down soon or without a fight — if they go down at all.

 

“The Latin American drug story is not going to have a happy ending,” predicts a sorrowful Birns at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs. “There is no way out.”

 

Here’s hoping he’s wrong. But what if he’s right?

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