Ultimo post del 2008: “Las leyes sobre drogas son inmorales”, por el padre Marquis

Ultimo post del año 2008 deseándoles que tengan un 2009 brillante. El artículo siguiente del cura católico John Clifton Marquis, publicado en IDPI y recomendado por Gustavo en un comentario de verdad va a la cuestión moral relativa a la legislación de las drogas. Hay un abismo entre esta forma de tratar la cuestión y la exhibición de frases cazafantasmas que estamos acostumbrados a ver.

Si alguien se toma el trabajo de traducirlo, se lo agradezco. Sólo voy a poner en castellano esta frase que me parece contundente: “Los líderes morales no tienen otra alternativa que elegir entre una moralidad auténtica, que lleva al bien, y una moralidad cosmética, que se ve bien“. Su título es “Las leyes sobre drogas son inmorales”. Creo que desde ahí puede venir el cambio, la inquisición debe ser primero desenmascarada en el plano ético.

Drug Laws are Immoral
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By Father John Clifton Marquis, S.T.
U.S Catholic, May 1990
The United States’ federal, state, county and city governments have spent the last 50 years writing and enacting antidrug laws with increasingly severe punishments for offenders. These laws are false gods promising a salvation they cannot produce. Every year, they demand more adoration from their devotees: more time, more money, more people, more resources. And yet, no matter how punitive the sanctions (including the death penalty itself), the drug-providing business has only escalated; indeed ballooned. This is simple, historical fact.

Drug laws are a moral issue. Fifty years of drug legislation have produced the exact opposite effect of what those laws intended: the laws have created a tantalizingly profitable economic structure for marketing drugs. When law does not promote the common good, but in fact causes it to deteriorate, the law itself becomes bad and must be changed.

The undeniable result of current U.S. drug laws is certainty that drugs will be very, very expensive. The corollary to that “given” is that people will commit many and violent sins to control the money that is to be made.

The moral issue here is to do the very best that can be done to give the community maximum control over drug availability and consequent drug use. Society cannot cure every drug abuser or alcoholic; that is a given. But the community can create a social condition in which innocent people do not become victims and where health-care professionals have a better opportunity (with more funds and people available) to serve the healing process of drug abusers.

The moral principle involved here is very old and very sure: pick the lesser of two evils. Drug abuse is bad. It is a patent evil to the person abusing drugs and to everyone connected with him or her. But drug abuse is a problem that church and society can tackle and, in many cases, cure or control. In practice, our communities have the spiritual and psychological tools at hand. However, most do not have sufficient human and economic resources to use those tools effectively to help the people who desperately need them. The overwhelming majority of these resources are mainlined into a self-abortive policing effort that, by its very nature, cannot succeed.

Drug use and abuse clearly are serious problems. Yet a more intrusive and caustic moral illness results from the presence of drugs in the United States: greed. Greed is a much more subtle evil that the immaturity that leads to substance abuse. Like a cancer, it produces ancillary evils as destructive as its root. The people of the United States know by daily experience the destructive and havoc wreaked upon their lives by drug provides. This is the moral evil that must be erased.

I am painfully aware that, for many millions of U.S. citizens, the very mention of completely legalizing drugs sounds like a form of blasphemy. That is why I deliberately described current U.S. drug laws as false gods. They are blasphemy. They are the idolatrous Frankenstein that elected officials have created. They make the drug trade incredibly lucrative. Neither police action nor the appointment of drug czars will faze the drug lords. As a nation, the United States may well arrest and convict thousands of dealers. Law enforcement agencies can incarcerate them all at disastrous cost to the public. For the kind of economic profit illegal drugs provide, however, there will always be other losers that take their places. The kingpins will go on.

Moral leaders have no alternative but to choose between authentic morality, which produces good, and cosmetic morality, which merely looks good. Drug laws look good! But the tragic flaw of cosmetic morality, like all other forms of cosmetics, is that it produces no change of substance.

Proponents of cosmetic morality would rather look good than pay the tough, personal price of doing good. Authentic morality knows its limitations in the human condition and does all it can for the common good.

Some people are convinced that any and every problem can be solved with just a little more firepower. Yet the United States already has the third highest rate of incarceration in the world, following only South Africa and the Soviet Union. Continued enforcement of drug laws may make us number one. Funds needed for education and health care will be stripped away to maintain police agencies and prisons. U.S. liberties and judicial process are endangered because of a growing mania to win in court one way or another. Authentic moral leaders cannot afford the arrogant luxury of machismo, with its refusal to consider not “winning.” Winning, the case for drug abuse, is finding the direction and methods that provide the maximum amount of health and safety to the whole society without having a cure that is worse than the disease.

The fact is that the United States never had organized crime until Prohibition. Illegal (and thus very expensive) alcohol created a new economic market with hoodlums machine-gunning one another to death over profits. The percentage of U.S. citizens who drank hard liquor actually increased after alcohol was outlawed. When alcohol became legal again, the now-organized crime syndicate simply picked up the drug trade.

The standard argument against the legalization of drugs (all drugs, across the board) is: “It will make people, especially young people, think drugs are good.” The people involved in drug dealing and drug using already think they are good. They are acquiring the money or pleasure so highly prized by the U.S. culture. At this point, what is imperative for leaders in the United States to realize how young people think about good and bad. As a culture, U.S. youth do not equate illegal with immoral. Within their culture (and their experience of what adults have been doing with laws for the last generation), illegal simply means “harder to get,” “forbidden fruit,” or “adult toy.” The United States has some laws for the protection of human life. What does that teach young people about the law? Law may very well have been a teacher of good and bad for Saint Paul and Saint Thomas Aquinas, but it is hardly that for U.S. youth.

Another popular argument (and gross misconception) is that legal drugs will be too available. The reality is that U.S. grade schools and prisons are two of the hottest areas of drug trade. How much more available can the stuff become?

Legalizing all drugs in the United States would have one immediate and dramatic effect: it would render them cheap. In today’s market, a kilogram of illegal heroin or illegal cocaine has a street value of several million dollars. A kilogram of illegal marijuana has a street value of about a quarter million dollars. A kilogram of legal cocaine would be worth perhaps a couple hundred dollars and a kilogram of legal marijuana would be price with expensive tobacco. As long as drugs are illegal, the obscenity of the pricing structure will perdure. Legal drugs do not drug lords make. Legal drugs eradicate the reason for violence to control the trade.

There is no doubt that some people will abuse legal drugs; this happens with legal alcohol. It is also a sad human fact that some very sober and reasonable people drive cars recklessly; gamble away their hard earned money; use the gift of speech to spread slander, calumny, and gossip; and go on to do a great variety of inappropriate and sinful things. Human nature is, after all, wounded by the reality of sin. But lawmaking is not now, and never has been, the magic formula for goodness.

The problems, hurts, and difficulties that will definitely result from legalized drugs will be far, far less numerous and less destructive to the whole society than theft, bribery, violence, murder, mayhem, and self-degradation that are daily bread in the United States today. U.S. citizens must have the integrity and the painful honesty to keep in the forefront of their minds that they are not preventing addiction to crack or any other drug at this time. The current methods are not working. Humility, not arrogance, will help society find the best way to reach its goal, which is common good.

The authentic definition of humility is truth.

Categorized as Liberalismo

By Jose Benegas

Abogado, ensayista y periodista. Master en economía y ciencias políticas. Conductor y productor de radio y televisión. Colaborador de medios escritos, televisivos y radiales. Analista y conferencista internacional desde la perspectiva de la sociedad abierta y las libertades personales a las que ha dedicado su obra intelectual. Dos veces premiado en segundo lugar del concurso internacional de ensayos Caminos del la libertad.


  1. Maravilloso artìculo, merece ser traducido y publicado hoy en los diarios de nuestro paìs… de plena actualidad local.

  2. Brillante, espectacular disecciòn de una las consecuencias mas nefastas de la estatolatria; la de equalizar el acto administrativo de poner en vigencia una ley o un decreto y obtener en forma inmediata los beneficios o cambiar la realidad en la direcciòn “prevista” por el burocrata ilustrado que juega a ser Dios presumiendo de una saber y de un poder que no tiene ni puede tener por la sencilla razòn que es un humano.
    En estos dìas asisto pasmado a la multitud de estupideces que se dicen en contra de la legalizaciòn de la droga. Lo que se pierde de vista en el debate planteado de esta manera es cual es el estado actual de situaciòn. Muchas veces cuando escucho a estos pretendidos “expertos” hablar sobre la problematica social de la droga me queda la impresiòn que ellos deben vivir en algùn planeta en donde esa problemàtica es inexistente ya que hablan como si aca nadie se drogara o no se cometieran delitos o no estuviesemos sumergidos en un mar de corrupciòn planetario gracias al dinero producido por el trafico de drogas cuyos margenes son astronòmicamente altos debido a que como todo negocio la rentabilidad ajusta por riesgo y al ser un negocio ilegal los margenes de rentabilidad suben. Es decir toda la moralina pseudoreligiosa que se opone a la legalizaciòn ignora no solo que el problema ya esta aca , es decir no comnezarìa a partir de una hipotetìca legaliaciòn, sino que ademàs ignora el costo que esta ridiculez tiene para el resto de la sociedad que se mantiene fuera del consumo y comenrcialiaciòn de drogas. Es decir se ignorna olimpicamente el costo de la intervenciòn gubernamental y se enfoca al tema en los “beneficios” prometidos que encima en este caso ni siquiera han sido reales ya que la politica de prohibiciòn SOLO SIRVIO PARA CREAR IMPERIOS MAFIOSOS GLOBABLES con la participaciòn necesaria de los gobiernos y las agencias parapoliciales creadas al respecto (DEA por ejemplo)…

    El articulo es brillante por que plantea el tema desde el punto que hay que plantearlo, ¿Donde estamos hoy? , ¿Cual es la politica con menor costo para la sociedad?, ¿Existe una forma de “redimir” a los que se han descarriado por el camino de la busqueda de la felicidad quimica? ¿puede una ley producir ese cambio de conducta? …. en el articulo estan magistralmente respondidas mis preguntas retoricas….

    Feliz año nuevo para todos y espero que no se emborrachen ya que eso los puede hacer pasibles de prisiòn

  3. ¡Qué buen artículo! Lo más asombroso es que ha sido escrito por un cura.

    Queda claro una vez más que las políticas prohibicionistas y moralistas terminan en un rotundo fracaso, provocando los efectos contrarios a los buscados.

    El problema del asunto es que quienes toman decisiones en la materia son gente que ignora la naturaleza del mismo problema, ni se molestan en averiguar la historia para aprender de los errores. Aunque tal vez haya muchos que saben en lo que terminan esas políticas, pero no les importa, sino sólo demostrar que se preocupan, y tener un argumento para figurar.

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