El Paso councilman Robert “Beto” O’Rourke is making national headlines after he sponsored a resolution that asks for the federal government to consider ending the Prohibition of marijuana and other illegal drugs, because the “drug war has not worked and is actually making things much worse.” O’Rourke’s proposal passed by an 8-0 vote on Tuesday, but was swiftly vetoed by Mayor James Cook.
Beto O’Rourke The 35-year-old two-term Councilman brought his case to CNN and the El Paso Times. He told CNN:
“(The War on Drugs) is essentially making narcotics traffickers richer. They’re literally in control of our sister city Ciudad Juarez. We need to rethink this War on Drugs and we ask that all options be on the table, including the ending of Prohibition. You literally have a failed city in Ciudad Juarez. The Mayor and City Council members actually live here in El Paso. Drug lords, for all intents and purposes, have functional control of the city. Many of us feel it’s only a matter of time before that spreads throughout Mexico. Frankly, we’re worried about the violence crossing north into the United States. We want something different from the status quo. The status quo is simply not working.”
O’ Rourke elaborated his position to editors of the El Paso Times:
“We’re urging the government to begin an open and honest dialogue about the Prohibition of narcotics in the United States. We have hundreds of thousands of citizens in jail on drug offenses. By any measure I can look at, the drug war has been a complete failure. The drug war isn’t working. We’re asking for a change, and all options need to be on the table, including the ending of the Prohibition of narcotics. There are parallels going back 75 years to the ending of the Prohibition of alcohol. The evidence has shown that once Prohibition was repealed the rates of alcohol abuse and public drunkenness really didn’t reach the dramatic levels that everyone feared. I think the issue at least deserves an honest airing and an intelligent debate. The experts might conclude that Prohibition continues to make sense, but we can focus much more on treatment or some form of regulation, like the experiment that’s going on in California and a dozen other states. Or maybe certain narcotics are legalized and regulated. Once you regulate, you are then able to work with users not as criminals, but as a people who have a health problem. It can be addressed as a public-health issue. Right now, if you’re using, you’re a criminal, you’re in jail, your treatment options are significantly limited. You’re also frankly imprisoning several generations of young inner-city men who, after their time in prison, really don’t have any other skills except for those acquired in the drug trade or further burnished by their time in jail. I want a serious conversation to take place. I’m real hopeful in this new administration and new Congress it will be given a serious airing.”