Alan Bock

Drug Wars in Mexico


Alan Bock, senior editorial writer at the Orange County Register and regular columnist, discusses the escalating drug-related violence in Mexico, how the Prohibition regulatory framework idled by the 21st Amendment found a second life policing marijuana use, the allure of black-market profits and the counterproductive and predictable results of the war on drugs.

MP3 here. (24:34)

Alan Bock is a columnist and the senior writer for the editorial page of the Orange County Register where he has written editorials and columns for more than 25 years. He is the author of Waiting to Inhale – The Politics of Medical Marijuana and Ambush at Ruby Ridge. His “Eye on the Empire” column is a regular feature on

5 thoughts on “Alan Bock”

  1. Oh, how many times have I had this discussion with ‘conservative’ relatives (I wouldn’t stay friends with such imbeciles). DRUGS DON’T CAUSE VIOLENCE, MONEY DOES.

    If a packet of cigarettes or a six-pack of beer cost $200, then people would steal, swindle, even kill, to get the money to buy them. And those running the trade would not hesitate to maim/torture/murder to keep the profits in their hands.

    Radix malorum est cupiditas.

  2. I think drug abuse is foremost about overusing superfluous pharmaceutical products, which is much more widespread and detrimental to public health and economy, but by saying that I am just placing myself well beyond the allowable limits of any discussion, so I’ll take that back (but not really.)

    There is another environmental dimension to the use of drugs, somewhat beyond the scope here, which is that the expectation the user has of the drugs will determine his (or her) behavior as opposed to or perhaps will superseed a more clinical or deterministic (bio)chemical based expectation pattern.

    I am not making this up.

    I don’t really have an idea whether it is true, sounds plausible to me within bounds. But suppose that it is to a certain level, then it is conceivable to suppose that an environment in which “a war on drugs” is the norm, propaganda creates images in which you will never recover from smoking a joint and getting caught with a barely detectable quantity of some ‘illegal substance’ on you will get you behind bars forever would create a culture and induce a pattern of expectation in any individual user that’s not necessarily all that positive. All that is positive is perhaps the feedback of the loop between repression and abuse.

  3. In reply to what Alexander Toth said, it’s possible what you say about the environmental dimension to drug use is true, although I can’t be said to be an expert in the subject.

    In Holland, where cannabis is sold legally, they have relatively low cannabis use and low abuse of harder drugs too. Another example I can think of is that many soldiers in Vietnam became hooked on opiates when they were out there during the war, but when they came back they were able to continue as normal, with little signs of them ever being junkies.

  4. This was good background on the political economy of the drug trade. I do hope that Scott will have Bock on the show again or in some other way revisit the subject.

    There’s another aspect to the basic context now, however, which needs to be discussed more: Namely the trend of the government’s major source of revenue toward zero within a year or two, due to collapsing oil production. What would one predict under that circumstance? You’d expect other parties that control other revenue flows bigger than normal profits, and who concomitantly have access to other means of violence, to rival the government’s control. I urge Scott, Alan and others to take a serious look at this. See e.g. Jeff Vail’s discussion of this over at The Oil

    I would also urge caution, in looking into this subject, in accepting the common claim that the decline of Mexican oil production is simply due to “lack of investment.” PEMEX paid Bechtel to build the world’s largest atmospheric nitrogen separation plant in the world a decade ago, and what it got to show for it was a few years of inflated production at Cantarell, masking the decline of non-Cantarell oil production which had set in earlier. Now it faces collapsing production partly as a _result_ of that investment, coupled with a huge current debt burden.

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