It's obvious that the Mexican government is in an alley without an exit. Changing the strategy inside the margins of prohibition only implies one thing: returning to the policy of tolerance of the past, which will reduce the violence but will also precipitate the growth of the problem.I don't remember a more full-throated call from Chabat for legalization or decriminalization. I can't argue with his diagnosis of Mexico's problem, but whether or not a society in which meth and cocaine are sold legally is a step up from a society with a certain level of drug violence remains a question mark for me. I suppose one big key is what that certain level of violence is, and how resistant it is to government policy. If you think that Mexico is doomed to suffer the present levels of corruption and violence for as long as prohibition is enforced, then legalization is almost certainly a better path.
From this perspective, the most rational option would be to do away with prohibition and stop sacrificing the state and the society in a fight that is taking place in the wrong trench. Criminalizing a health problem doesn't resolve it and aside from that generates two additional problems: corruption and violence. Is that so difficult to understand?
I guess I'm just not as convinced as Chabat that such is the case. It's not implausible that Calderón's anti-drug policies have some success in lowering the level of violence in Mexico in 2009 or 2010. No one would have guessed that New York City was on its way to being the safest big city in America in 1991, but it was.
At the same time, the war on drugs (in Mexico and in the States) would seem to have long ago reached a point at which you'd say radical changes in strategy are needed. I'd just feel a lot more comfortable with hard drugs being legalized if demand was lower. In any event, since prohibition of cocaine and meth (which are far more important to gangs' revenues than marijuana) is not likely for at least a couple of decades, the primary focus for drug policy makers and analysts should be on how to make prohibition work best.