August 9, 2011, Santa Fe, NM – Calling “U.S. Legalizes Marijuana” the potential headline Mexican drug cartels fear the most, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson maintains that growing violence along the U.S. – Mexico border is largely a “prohibition” problem, and that ending marijuana prohibition would “hit the cartels where it hurts.”

In a column published in the Washington Times, Johnson says that bigger fences, troops on the border and other enforcement measures are obviously not deterring border violence, but are actually escalating that violence.  Legalizing marijuana in the United States, however, would deny Mexican cartels their “largest profit center and dramatically reduce not only the role of the United States in their business plans, but also the motivation for waging war along our southern border.”

In his column, Johnson said, “Make no mistake. There is a war going on along our border.  An estimated 28,000 people have lost their lives to border violence over the past six years, and there is no end in sight.  It is, without question, a more serious threat to U.S. interests than anything we are facing in Iraq, Afghanistan or Libya.

“Having lived most of my life in New Mexico, done business there for decades and served two terms as governor, I will say with great confidence that just about everything we are doing to deal with ‘border issues’ is wrong.

“Inflamed by politicians who have chosen to use illegal immigration as the ultimate wedge issue, far too many people see a connection between a lack of so-called border security and border violence.  Let us be clear:  The border war is not an immigration problem – illegal or otherwise, and even if it was, fences and troops will not solve it.  If anything, the ‘crackdown’ measures of recent years, while doing little or nothing to address illegal immigration, have had the unintended consequence of upping the ante for the cartels trying to move drugs across that same border, resulting in greater crime and violence.

“Border violence is a prohibition problem.  Just as we did for Al Capone and his murderous colleagues ninety years ago, our drug laws have created the battlefield on which tens of thousands are dying.  By doggedly hanging on to marijuana laws which make criminals out of our kids while our leaders proudly consume wine at State Dinners, we have created an illegal marketplace with such mind-boggling profits  that no enforcement measures will ever overcome the motivation, resources and determination of the cartels.

“There are ample reasons why millions of Americans, the Global Commission on Drug Policy, and just this week, former Mexican President Vicente Fox are calling for legalization of marijuana as an alternative to the failed and ridiculously costly “War on Drugs”.  28,000 deaths along the border are certainly among those reasons.

“Our federal government has spent 40 years and a trillion dollars on a failed War on Drugs, and the real and societal costs of treating drug abuse as a crime problem rather than what it is, a health problem, are inestimable.  Add to that reality the tragedy our laws are fueling along the border, and it is clearly time to end this Prohibition, just as we ended the last one."

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About Presidential Candidate Gary Johnson: Gary Johnson, a Republican and two-term Governor of New Mexico from 1994-2002, has been a consistent and outspoken advocate for limited, efficient government and personal liberty.