In 2021, more than 125 a thousand people died of overdose in the United States. This year will end with even darker figures. To reinforce the dimension of the tragedy, the daily average of deaths is only lower than the casualties of American soldiers in the Civil War (1861-1865) and in the Second World War. But anyone who treats the drug issue as a war deserves stoning.
In both the United States and Brazil, the general chorus of “let’s liberate” is growing. The reasons are the most diverse, but the most common are: 1) with legalization, we will break the legs of trafficking; 2) thousands of people will no longer be arrested for involvement in trafficking; 3) the carnage that exists in the drug trade will end; 4) the horrifying scenes of zombies in cracolândias, like the one in downtown São Paulo, will end.
It would be great, but it is nothing more than an illusion sold by the drug lobby, with the support of greedy politicians or naive and with the operation of very smart people, who through the revolving doors transfer a type of valuable knowledge to interest groups (and here I am not just talking about drugs).
It is supported by thesis that legalization will face drug trafficking? It seems to be the most misleading of premises. Cocaine and crack, for example, produced according to industrial and pharmaceutical standards, would be able to compete with the drug that is refined in the corners of the forests, using semi-slave and often child labor and using ingredients such as gasoline and acid. sulfuric acid, which are added in the recipe along with the coca leaves? The only change that would come from legalization is the change in the typology of crime, trafficking would be called contraband and the trafficker a smuggler.
People would then no longer be arrested because of this change of typology? Evidently not. The tobacco industry, which sells a legal drug, has smuggling as its biggest rival. Counterfeit cigarettes represent no less than 49% of the Brazilian market. Because of a price difference of around R$1 per pack, smugglers are able to grab half of the national market. Imagine the case of cocaine, where the difference between the legal and taxed drug and that produced by the traffickers could be a few times more?
Criminality and carnage resulting from drug trafficking do not exist or will cease to exist because of the crime typology of their core activity. Drugs – whether they are the product of trafficking or smuggling – will continue to be the source of funding for the center of dispute for territorial and market control, which today results in the deterioration of public security not only in Brazil, but in the hemisphere.
Could we at least put an end to the cracolândias spread across Brazil? A question that must be asked before attempting to answer the previous one is this: are people addicted for what reason, just because the drug is illegal? Crackers who have reached the level of sub-indigence will never have access to the formal crack market if the State does not become the sponsor of the addiction, taking money that should go to health and education to clog the streets with legal drugs.
When he was mayor of São Paulo, PT Fernando Haddad, in addition to funding boarding houses so that crack addicts could take drugs with more dignity, paid a weekly stipend. Formally, the idea was to provide a damage containment policy that would allow users to consume drugs in more private environments and that could sustain their addiction without having to steal or prostitute themselves (as a member of the São Paulo Judiciary defined it to me at that time).
Every Friday, after leaving the queue where they received the weekly R$ 125, they joined the queue on the side to deliver the full amount of the scholarship to repay the debt owed to traffickers. It was something like R$ 37 from the public coffers that ended up in a cardboard box that the PCC collector had by his side to charge for the drug offered on credit.
A pair of heavyweight journalists from the American newspaper The Washington Post will release a book next week that tells how the pharmaceutical industry’s combination of lobbying, politics and co-opting strategic federal officials created the perfect environment for the loosening of repressive measures and the impunity of those responsible (locally) for the flood of opioids in the United States. In “American Cartel”, Scott Higham and Sari Horwitz name, cite the events and reconstruct all the way to an American tragedy.
Crisis turned opportunity for those who want to see American society still closer to the edge of the abyss. Through Cuba and Mexico, Chinese traffickers (possibly acting in coordination or with the tolerance of the Chinese regime) are providing the inputs for local cartels to produce and flood America with fentanyl, which is 50 times more potent than heroin.
Several US states have relaxed their drug policies. Has the result been an improvement in the quality of public security, indicators of violence and trafficking itself? It is not what seems to have happened. Cities located in the more liberal portions of the United States, such as the capital Washington, DC, and the Californians San Francisco and Los Angeles exhibit their cracolândias, the increase in indigence resulting from addiction and an alarming increase in violent crime.
In Brazil, there is no shortage of people working for a similar and potentially worse fate. Too bad the debate is so shallow and contaminated by polarization.