If the United States has any interest in ending the drug related violence over the last decade that spiked after Mexican President Felipe Calderon took office when he implemented military tactics to combat the country’s drug cartels, it’s time to abandon prohibition, says Cato Institute’s Ted Galen Carpenter.

“If we abandon prohibition, we essentially defund the drug cartels,” says Carpenter. “They would have a major hit to their revenues, to their financial resources. That would greatly reduce their power, the threat they pose to the Mexican government and Mexican society.”

Since Calderon’s inauguration in 2006, nearly 60,000 people have died along the U.S.-Mexican border but the transport of drugs has not slowed. Instead, the conflict between cartels and the Mexican government has turned into “a low-grade civil war” — something that also threatens U.S. security, says Carpenter.  

Saturday, Enrique Peña Nieto takes office as the new president of Mexico. He vowed to move U.S.-Mexico relations beyond the drug war in a recent Time magazine interview.

“I think we can start moving beyond what is sometimes a monothematic relationship due to the [drug war] issue,” said Nieto. “We can start focusing on prosperity issues again, like better integrating our economies so we can present a more powerful regional block to the world.”