Some people would have us believe that if the United States were to "stop enforcing the War on Drugs" our country would "turn into Mexico."
The problem with this line of reasoning is that it ignores one simple truth: as the violence in Mexico escalates, it is slowly spilling over our borders because of the "War on Drugs."
The reason why Mexican drug cartels are so brutally and cold-bloodedly violent is that since what they're doing already is illegal, there's absolutely no incentive to spurn other criminal actions such as turf wars, kidnapping, and so on. Instead of vying for customers through marketing and offering a superior product – which is the case with legal goods, the most assured way to get and keep customers is through violently eliminating the competition.
By legalizing at the very least all-natural intoxicants such as cannabis, the raw coca leaf, and poppy plants, there becomes incentive for those who still would engage in distributing and/or selling them to not just step out of the shadows but even to comply with regulatory statutes such as those governing the production, handling, marketing, and sales of alcohol. There would be no point in violent activity directed at competitors.
Also, by ending the "War on Drugs" that would mean no longer aggressively pursuing, prosecuting, and incarcerating those who use drugs: there becomes incentive for those individuals to step out of the shadows with their choices (much the same as what happened with alcohol consumption once Prohibition ended as a result of the repeal of the 18th Amendment), which would in turn make it much easier for those who wish to engage in drug abuse outreach to identify the people they desire to help.
That, right there, is billions (if not tens-of-billions) of dollars saved every year. Much of the remaining tens-of-billions of dollars saved comes from not having to house the vast majority of those who are in prison for "drug-related crimes" – particularly those prosecuted as felons for simple possession of small amounts.
Also, the reason why Mexican drug cartels are multi-billion-dollar operations is that there is (for a lack of a better phraseology) a market for their products. If those who would produce, ship, and sell legal intoxicants were given the incentive to stay out of the cross-hairs of the criminal justice system (licensing, taxation compliance, local zoning ordinances, etc.), there would be an even further quelling of violent and corrupt practices as operating completely above board offers the promise of staying out of prison.
When the 21st Amendment was passed, America did not descend into a sea of drunkenness where anyone and everyone old enough to unscrew a bottle cap would die by drowning in booze and their own vomit. The same will hold true with drugs.
It is beyond time to do-away with the irresponsible rhetoric permeating this issue.