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Vanessa Gonzalez Kraft tries to balance her traditional Mexican-American cultural heritage and Catholic identity, personified by her grandmother La Lupe, with her roles as a young wife and mother.

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September 8th, 2010

Recreational Drug Use

 
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lalupe-recdrugs-flash3The latest story about the massacre of immigrants in Tamaulipas, Mexico by the drug cartels has me thinking about the issue of recreational drug use again. Of course it is not a good idea to do anything illegal but I think there is a distinct difference between drug addicts and people who just use drugs at parties or to wind down after a long week. I’ve known plenty of people in this second category. These are educated people, have stable jobs, and are generally aware of social justice issues. We all have skeletons in the closet and we all struggle with certain things but buying drugs, even if only occasionally, is directly supporting the violence that is perpetuated by drug trafficking. How is it justifiable to use illegal drugs?

LA to Santa Barbara. Austin to San Antonio. Chicago to South Bend, IN. Philadelphia to Baltimore. That is how close these immigrants were to the US border. They make the long journey from South/Central America to the US only to be murdered 100 miles from their destination. I can’t stop thinking about how heart-wrenching that is.

Obviously immigration and drug trafficking are extremely complex issues with lots of different factors but there are some clear facts. The Mexican drug cartels have become so powerful because of the money they make in drug trafficking and in the trafficking of immigrants. America has such a high demand for cheap labor and for drugs that we make these gangs stronger and richer.

There are lots of middlemen in the drug business. It’s easy not to feel bad when you buy some pot off a guy who lives a couple floors down and who seems decent enough. He’s not some thug-looking guy with gang tattoos all over his face, carrying a glock, an AK 47, and a machete. I know it is easy to feel disconnected. But every dollar spent buying drugs, no matter how inconsequential it may seem, directly supports the drug violence problem in Mexico. That weekly joint to de-stress ends up supporting the heinous acts of violence we see on TV. It supports the people who lined 72 immigrants up and shot them dead and left them piled up in a room. It supports the people that have killed 28,000 people in Mexico since 2006. 28,000 killed in drug violence. The number is just sickening. And yet people who avoided eating at Taco Bell when it wouldn’t pay its tomato pickers more, who didn’t buy Nike shoes when it was found that they used children in sweatshops, who use reusable bags at the grocery store, they still continue to use drugs recreationally.

I don’t think people who occasionally use drugs are bad people. Like I said before, we all have things that we struggle with. These people are my friends who are good people and have a conscience. I just think that maybe enough reflection on what they are actually supporting has not been done. It needs to be brought to people’s attention.

There is no clear or easy solution to end the violence perpetuated by these drug cartels in Mexico. But I can’t help but wonder how much less powerful gangs would be if people who consciously try to help the world stopped using drugs? How much lower would demand be? How much less money would be in the pockets of those who kidnap immigrants and ransom them only to kill them anyways?

 
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The Author : Vanessa Gonzalez Kraft
Vanessa, a Notre Dame grad, loves the Catholic Worker Movement, Catholic education, and overbearing Mexican mothers, which she may or may not be. She lives in Austin with her husband and three daughters and is a freelance writer. You can find Vanessa at v.kraft.im or follow Vanessa on Twitter @laluped.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • Zeb

    This is a great point, and a great argument for legalization. I disagree with Bill, I think home grown drugs are a great choice. I live in a state with total prohibition and so I abstain, but I have friends who grow marijuana in California and Oregon under the umbrella of “medical,” and as far as I can see, what they are doing is a benefit to the community in every way.

  • Mike Carlon

    First off, let me admit to being a complete square. I might sound a bit like Danny Vermin when I say, “I tried pot once. Once!”

    That being said, it is easy to dismiss pot as a drug that has little to no health consequences. I have even heard doctors say that it is safer than alcohol. For me, I just did not have any interest in it.

    The issue you bring up, though, is a smart one. If people could link back the senseless violence seen on the evening news and newspapers to something they do to unwind, perhaps they would think twice about it.

    Personally, I find running, creative writing, playing music, and reading as wonderful destressors (and I don’t crave cheetoes afterwards). Heck, I sometimes even make it to daily Mass as a way to unwind!

  • Tom Gibbons

    This is a great piece… and an aspect of drug use that usually gets lost between “Just Say No” and “Half Baked.” The violence that supports this industry is actually the one reason I never tried them… even though I was tempted at a Dave Matthews concert once. ;)

  • Bill

    An excellent piece! Now if only there were an easy way to convince a few people I know “home grown” drugs are still a bad choice.

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