A recent news story reported that the death toll from drug-related violence in Mexico is now estimated at 70,000.  In addition, focus on the thousands of people known as the “disappeared” has provided further proof of the inability of the Mexican government to control the violence.  The “disappeared” group now numbers over 20,000 and includes police officials, construction workers, lawyers, businessmen, students and over 1200 children under the age of 11. (Read the full story.)

The scale of the problem is enormous, dwarfing the well-documented missing problem in Chile in the during the Pinochet years (1973-1990) when an estimated 1200 people were listed as disappeared.  Describing the problem is unfortunately more easily done than fixing it.  Recognition that drug money from America is at the root of the violence is a key first step.  Money generated from drug sales in Cincinnati, Chicago, Grand Rapids and every community in our country large and small is the fuel that supports the cartels.  A strategy that chokes off this drug revenue is key to suppressing the violence.

Two important steps underlay the strategy.  First, legalize marijuana.  Pot accounts for 60% of cartel revenue and is their number one product.  Putting marijuana into a legalized, regulatory market would be a huge financial blow to the cartels.

Second, move a higher percentage of the addicted population into treatment.  Easier said than done, I know.  But there are several steps we can take toward this goal.  Addicts are the lifeblood of the illegal drug market.  Without addicts, there are no customers for the illegal market and their revenue further shrinks.

After 40 years of the drug war, Americans are increasingly open to another way.  It is time for Americans of all political persuasions to add their voice to those supporting change.