Posted by: Paula Delgado-Kling | August 10, 2010

“Pickles!” “Apples!” “Drugs, Colombian, Jamaican. Organic Drugs!”

10 am of what promises to be the perfect autumn day, New York University subway station: I stand by the magazine kiosk on Sixth Avenue, damning my friend because she’s late. She’s always late.

“Psss, miss, is this what you want?” a tall man asks me. It’s almost 70 degrees Farenheit and he wears a puffy North Face coat.

I stop him from showing me what seems to be safety-pinned to the lining of his coat—“no! No! Coffee is plenty for me, thanks.”—and I take a swig from my paper cup.

Minutes later, I observe Drug Pusher whispering by the side of the magazine kiosk with two NYU undergrads. Damn … those kids seemed to have been on their way to the library.

This week, Mexico’s current president, Felipe Calderon, joined the voices of former presidents (César Gaviria of Colombia, Fernando Cardoso of Brazil and Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico) who call for legalizing drugs as a way to slash the profits of drug cartels.

If the idea of these former presidents gathers momentum, Drug Pusher will have his own kiosk; he’ll set up it beside the farmer’s market tables, between the guy who sells organic pickles and the lady who sells organic apples. Drug Pusher could possibly find some certification to call his herbs organic.

In Brixton, South London, a six-month experiment in loosening the national drug laws ended with residents feeling that their neighborhood had turned into an open-air drug bazaar.

“Skunk weed, skunk weed!” yelled the Brixton drug dealers.

“From Jamaica, from Colombia, from Mexico, from wherever you want it, baby!” will yell the Drug Pusher in my neighborhood.

I’ll double-bolt my door, gate my windows: People under the influence of drugs are six times more likely to commit a homicide.

Amanda Fielding of the Huffington Post, like most supporters of legalizing drugs, says, “The cartels will cease to be a major employer and the rule of law can be given the chance to re-emerge.”

That’s just it—the cartels are a major employer because there are no other jobs available. It’s not about legalizing drugs, it’s about directing foreign investment to drug-poor regions, about creating legit job opportunities in Mexico and Colombia so families won’t have to carry out jobs that they feel morally wrong about. (It’s about not criminalizing immigrant workers in America who come work in our delis and clean our gyms and nanny our children because they do not want to otherwise work for drug cartels.)

What America does not understand is: the majority of Colombians and Mexicans who work in the drug business do so out of necessity.

Ms. Fielding says that in legalizing drugs, money can then flow into security, education and treatment services.

And yes, those treatment services will be a must, world-wide—To legalize drugs is to risk a global generation of young people. Those two NYU undergrads were not Drug Pusher’s only clients that morning.

But, I suppose, if America is already nearly losing a whole generation of its young people to obesity, giving them easier access to drugs won’t make a difference.


  1. After prohibition, criminalizing drugs is one of the poorest decisions the US, and many other countries, made in the 20th century (and a decision based on flimsy ‘evidence’). State control may not impact drug use but it will certainly reduce the crime associated with its production and the revenues can be used positively.

    Steve Laine

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