DAGLI: Think before you puff

The first time I ever encountered weed was when I came to Yale. I was pregaming in an Old Campus suite when I detected an odd smell coming from a strange-looking water pipe. “What hookah flavor is that?” I asked. One of the smokers chuckled.

“Hookah?” he said. “This is not hookah. It’s weed!”

His answer struck me as a complete surprise. I expected weed to be in the form of a joint, rolled up and small like the ones in the movies, but never in the form of something as sophisticated as a water pipe — a vaporizer, as someone would later correct me.

My host proceeded to explain the benefits of using vaporizers compared to smoking joints, even pulling a joint from his room to show me how to assemble it. But back in my bed, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed.

The ubiquity of marijuana on campus still makes me uncomfortable. More importantly, it disappoints me. Widespread and uncritical acceptance of weed overshadows the reality of how much violence the drug trade causes on the other side of the border.

For the past several years, Mexico has experienced unprecedented levels of violence stemming from the drug trade. I know this from the newspaper articles that I read back home, describing mass murders, mutilated bodies and the constant threat of drug cartels. I know this from personal stories of relatives being kidnapped and of family friends being murdered. I know this from the fear that my family experiences every day as the cartels’ attacks become increasingly random and gruesome.

The numbers don’t lie. According to Mexico’s Secretariat of Public Security, over 50,000 people have been killed because of drug-related violence over the past six years — that’s more than the casualties of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. Ciudad Juarez, known worldwide as a symbol of the harrowing consequences of the drug trade, is one of the least safe cities in the world.

To many Americans, these facts are just statistics. But the painful realities of the drug war have become embedded in the Mexican consciousness: We must carry them everywhere we go.

With stakes this high, no one can afford to be ignorant. Unfortunately, many Yalies still are.

And that’s why Yale students need to consider one last fact before taking their next puff. According to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, U.S. consumers account for the majority of marijuana exports from Mexico. Their actions, regardless of intent, fuel the violence that has empowered drug cartels, ravaged my country and harmed its national spirit.

For a school that prides itself on its commitment to global volunteerism, the fact that so many students consume and condone a substance that’s violently destroying a nation shocks me. At first, I tried to tolerate weed, to pretend that it didn’t make me feel uncomfortable. But I can’t anymore.

I’m not ashamed of walking out of parties where people are smoking. When they ask why I don’t smoke, I tell them about Mexico’s dire situation.

I’m not going to lie: Smoking has been very tempting. Weed is everywhere. But thinking of the violence that I experience back home is enough to make me say “No.”

We need to briefly consider the great damage that consuming weed perpetrates. I know that being sympathetic is difficult. Most students have never been to Mexico (and will probably not go anytime soon after reading this). Yet Mexico is not “the rest of the world,” as the history department categorizes it. Its problems affect all of us.

If we are willing to put the time and effort to build health clinics in Peru and to feed hungry children in Africa, I hope we can be sensitive enough to care for the people living next to the country we live in now. If we truly are caring citizens of the world, as Yale prepares us to be, we should have no problem putting down a joint and knowing that we’ll help to end the violence by doing so.

Murat Dagli is a junior in Pierson College. Contact him at murat.dagli@yale.edu.

Comments

  • silliwin01

    It’s surprising that you used this reality of Mexican drug violence to make an argument for curtailing consumption of marijuana, rather than make an argument for appealing the laws consigning it to the black market (and Mexico the aforementioned violence.) Considering the only downside you presented was the marijuana trade’s ruinous effect on Mexican society, and implied you would be partaking yourself were the violence not there, wouldn’t it make more sense to advocate for a solution that satisfies both Mexico and Yale students?

    • Heisenberg

      It’s surprising that you ignore the fact that this column is not about legalization. It is clear that he is suggesting to curtail the consumption of marijuana because when it is illegal it supports the drug cartels.

  • nomegustas

    Dagli realizes that not all cannabis that Yalies smoke comes from Mexico, right? I’ve known Yalies who’ve gotten shipments of medical cannabis from California and Maine. There are ways to get cannabis without supporting Mexican cartels. Furthermore, rather than telling Yalies not to light-up, why not advocate a position that removes the necessity for cannabis to be on the black market? You shame Yalies for smoking, but use some very basic and non-progressive politics as the backdrop. There will always be people who want to use cannabis, so the change has to happen in the laws that criminalize it and, therefore, give cartels a reason to exist.

    • Goldie08

      Far worse are the hipsters cutting up rails in the elmhurst or (insert society tomb here). Almost all cocaine comes from mexico these days, and with profit margins significantly exceeding those of marijuana, is much more of a cash cow for the cartels. Intensely addictive and turns people into aggressive as s-wipes. Sadly, much more prevalent on campus than people realize.

  • ldffly

    Wait. Are you telling me that these days marijuana is regularly smoked on campus? Should I not be surprised? I’m not surprised, I’m flat on the floor.

  • desch

    Thank you, Murat. I completely agree and find myself having the same conversations over and over again with people. Sadly, they will always pull the “my dealer says it’s from California” card.

    Too bad it’s a black market and there arent any guarantees as to where it came from, even when you like your dealer etc. Oh… and California isnt a border state/major trade route anyway, right?

    • cincinnatus

      It’s a ridiculous argument. The immediate solution is to decriminalize the substance and allow adults to grow and use it. Additionally, the notion that marijuana in CT is primarily coming from Mexico is laughable.

    • Goldie08

      Most weed smoked on campus does not come from mexico. Most mexican weed is a dirty looking brown color, full of seeds and stems, smells like cardboard and is not very potent. It is shipped to the US packed in giant shrinkwrapped bricks and is generally sold to low income smokers in the bad parts of town. Packing an entire eighth in a dutch would barely get you buzzed. I have never once heard of a college student smoking “stress” as its called.

      Most good weed on the east coast comes from Canada, with lesser amounts originating in vermont, maine, upstate ny, etc. It’s also grown indoors in Jersey and CT. The best weed in the world is grown and smoked legally in southern california.

      • jamesdakrn

        *Northern California.

        I’m from SoCal, but LA can’t hang with the dudes up in Humboldt

  • River_Tam

    I agree with Ann Coulter, who once wrote that she didn’t care about legalizing weed if she knew she’d never have to pay for other people’s healthcare or social safety-net programs.

    • cincinnatus

      Yes, because obviously these policy decisions go hand in hand, right?

  • Goldie08

    > “I expected weed to be in the form of a joint, rolled up and small like the ones in the movies”

    This scene instantly came to mind:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAxH-SXYxyg

    • Goldie08

      poop13xxx – classy youtube username

  • disgruntled

    i think you’re confusing weed and cocaine…

  • The_Dude
  • YalePirate

    This is a great article. A lot of people are defensive about this topic, and say that the solution is just legalizing marijuana, but that doesn’t take away the moral implications of smoking it now while it’s illegal.

    Even if your friend tells you, “it’s from California,” how can you really be sure about that, that your friend in California didn’t get it from Mexico, or if they’re just straight up lying? I agree that legalizing weed is the ultimate solution, but until then, I don’t really want to have the guilt of supporting cartels on my conscience.

    • weedsmokerCA

      Because I am from CA and I tell my friends to go to the local dispensary, where growing is actually legal and its actually wayyy cheaper to do than to get it from border crossing illegal cartels, pack it and ship it over to the East Coast brother. Just come to CA and find out for yourself. Most weed is actually home grown in CA thanks to the medical marijuana system, where you can get a medical card if you pay 40 dollars to some janky doctor in Venice Beach. Thanks to that, Mexican cartels have some really small market share because no one goes to the dealers. They all just hit up their friend with a medical card.

    • weedsmokerCA

      And there were times I went with my friends to dispensaries, (located LITERALLY EVERYWHERE in LA), picked up, and smoked it when I was home for break and shpped whatever was left over

    • cincinnatus

      What about the moral implications of stupid laws?

  • AtticusFinch

    Violence associated with the drug trade in Mexico is prevalent due to the profitability of the product (e.g. weed and other drugs). The drug trade is profitable because of the illegal status of weed in America which gives it a high black market price. The War on Drugs is perpetuated through ignorance, such as the kind demonstrated by this op ed. You didn’t encounter weed before college? Fair enough, but do some research before you write an op ed in which you attempt to villify an already taboo community within mainstream America.

    In states where weed is decriminalized and/or legalized for medical purposes, the large majority of the marijuana in circulation is grown within the US. Want to help curb the drug violence? Legalize. What’s ironic is that it is rhetoric like this that perpetuates the wasteful (in terms of resources and lives) war on drugs and therefore perpetuates the drug violence in mexico.

  • The Anti-Yale

    If Wm F Buckley couldnt get pot decriminalized no liberal has a chance!

    • jamesdakrn

      Its on the ballots in colorado, washington and oregon

  • dawz

    Support locally grown products, guys,

  • weedsmokerCA

    Censorship much?

  • LogicalComments

    Yes, I agree that weed should be legalized but before it becomes legalized, we should think before we puff. Your actions and words should match up. Imagine you’re a white person in the South during the early 60′s. Diners were segregated. You can argue all you want that diners should be de-segregated. But unless you stop frequenting those diners (as a boycott), then you’re not really doing much. By frequenting those diners, you are implicitly supporting Jim Crow. Unless you know 100% where your weed comes from, you are implicitly supporting the drug cartels.

  • The Anti-Yale

    How is it that Ann Arbor Michigan has a smke-out day every year in which everyone smokes marijuana in public? That would be like having a drink-oui day during Prohibition.