“There are two types of folks you’ll see coming through here,” a ranger tells us in Organ Pipe National Monument. “The guys you see in the daytime, they’re coming from parts south of Mexico. They want to get caught. They’re seeking asylum.” “The other guys, you don’t see them as much. They come through at night. They’re the drug smugglers. We get 1,000 a month but,” he looks into the desert, “I’ve never seen even one.” The visitor center here is named for a border patrol agent who was killed by violent smugglers in 2003. I struggle with why this is necessary. I like math. We know that alcohol use rose 70% during prohibition. 34,000 people died from heroine, cocaine and meth in 2016. 17,500 more were killed in drug related homicides. Carry the one, divide by something, and so on...we could save 36,000 lives just by legalizing all of this stuff. Will people still die and will lives still be wrecked by drug addiction? Yes. But we already allow 480,000 people to kill themselves with tobacco every year. History says legalization reduces both crime and usage. We shout the benefits of deregulation on energy and banks, but rip the red white and blue right out of anyone who chooses to deregulate their own bodies. And we haven’t even touched on the number of lives ruined due to jail time for pot. “I can’t agree with you,” another ranger says, scratching his chest just above his badge, “but I think a lot of people in the know would.” Headed out of the park on our way to the next place, we pass a series of billboards. “States with legal marijuana had 25% less opioid deaths,” the signs claim. Apparently more people “in the know” agree than ever before.
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