Many of us have seen the constant stream of stories out of Mexico about the incredible amount of cartel violence that stems from their – and our – misguided War on Drugs. All the killing has woken up some south of our border to the fact that the violence is fueled by cartel profits; now some want to see about hitting the cartels where it hurts the most – in their profit margin.

Once a subject so taboo that college kids here didn’t even whisper about smoking pot, the idea of legalizing marijuana in Mexico has gained increasing favor, especially among a vocal group of academics, intellectuals and politicians.

Unsustainable amounts of violence and death seem to make people open their minds. Even Mexico’s current President has called for a debate on cannabis legalization. Not to mention the rising tide of pro-legalization sentiment coming from current and former Mexican politicians.

Four proposals that aim for varying degrees of decriminalization or legalization are on the docket in Mexico’s House of Deputies and another is circulating in the Senate. The proposals have garnered support from liberal and conservative lawmakers, as well as members of the congressional national security committee.

Former Mexican President Vicente Fox has been stumping for legalization. Last year, another former Mexican president, Ernesto Zedillo, pressed for decriminalization in a widely publicized report produced with former leaders of Colombia and Brazil.

But legalization in Mexico won’t be enough to stem the violence, since so much of the cartel’s profits come from people right here in the U.S. We must also look at our War on Drugs, and come up with the honest assessment; it is not working, and only serves to flood drug dealers and gangs with cash.

If we are going to defeat the cartels and stop the violence that is now spilling across the border into our country, nationwide marijuana legalization has to be on the table. If not, we are not serious about this problem. Even worse, we sign the death warrants of those who will die at the hands of the gangs and cartels in the future. Many of them will be American citizens.

Has our government simply stopped caring?

Joe Klare