Marijuana Legalization in Mexico Gaining Support

The idea of legalizing marijuana in Mexico has gained increasing favor, especially among a vocal group of academics, intellectuals and politicians.

Wearing a pressed shirt and tie, banging away on his laptop, law professor Alejandro Madrazo Lajous doesn't come across as an activist for legalizing marijuana.

But as the attorney for an organization at the forefront of the growing legalization movement in Mexico, he is one of its most ardent advocates.

"Seeing the destruction of my country because of the war on drugs, I began to realize the importance of debating the idea," said Madrazo, who is also an attorney for the Collective for an Integral Policy on Drugs.

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.

Analysts say the shift – which echoes an increasing openness to legalization in the U.S. outside of Texas – is both a function of changing generational attitudes toward drugs and growing public frustration with the country's drug war.

The death toll has risen to 28,000 since 2006, with more than 6,000 people killed in Ciudad Juárez, just across from El Paso, since 2008. President Felipe Calderón said recently he would support a national debate on the issue of legalization, reversing his previous stance on the subject. However, he underscored that he does not favor legalization, especially while the U.S., the world's largest consumer of drugs, maintains prohibition.

Calderón's call for a debate on legalization is significant, but political obstacles still stand in the way, said David Shirk, director of the Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego.

"It would be very difficult for Mexico to legalize when its northern neighbor, the most powerful country in the world, is against legalization," he said. "Mexico could not do that unilaterally without provoking a very strong political reaction from the United States."

Yet attitudes toward legalization have slowly been changing in the U.S., too.

Fourteen states and Washington, D.C., have legalized medical marijuana. Texas has been quiet on marijuana reform, but the state has relaxed rules on incarceration of first-time offenders. And in November, California residents will have a chance to vote on Proposition 19, which aims to legalize marijuana use for adults. A federal official notes that the law, if passed, would contradict the Federal Controlled Substances Act.

In Mexico, some 5 million people say they use marijuana, according to the national health ministry. That's about 5 percent of the population.

In the U.S., according to the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 35.5 million people said they had used marijuana in the past year, or about 10 percent of the population. In Texas, nearly 8 percent of Texans age 12 and older had reported using marijuana in the past year.

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.

Whether legalizing drugs would serve to curb the cartel violence in Mexico remains a subject of debate.

Marijuana – the most targeted drug in decriminalization and legalization proposals in Mexico and the U.S. – is not a high-margin product for drug trafficking organizations, analysts say, while cocaine is. And criminal organizations do more than traffic drugs these days: Kidnappings, bank robbery, extortion and human trafficking are also part of their business.

Take marijuana out of the equation and "all the things they are involved in, all these incredibly horrible crimes, of which narcotics is only a part, would still go on," said Gail Kerlikowske, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

"I don't think that marijuana legalization will be a panacea on drug violence in Mexico," said Shirk. "But legalization could change the nature of the fight. Drugs are so much more profitable than any other form of illicit activity. You take away that profitability, and you cripple the organizations' ability to corrupt the state."

For its part, the Obama administration doesn't anticipate Calderón will shift his strategy any time soon.

"Calderón has been very firm, and very strict, on his opposition to legalizing drugs," said Kerlikowske.

As he prepared for an evening meeting with the pro-legalization group, Madrazo, the attorney, said he hopes for a legal marijuana market wrested from the hands of criminals – one that would be "neither a free market nor a black market but a market that is regulated."

- Article from The Dallas Morning News.

Comments

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I think there wont be any mayor change until the USA legalizes ...... because thats were all the money comes from ..... cut the source of money and the drugs will stop flowing ........ also if Mexico legalizes marijuana the border would become a battlefield (More than now) ....... Mexico, Central America and South America need to unite and put some pressure on the US so they would stop this failed war on drugs .....

Change will not come from top down in U.S.

Following the logic that each individual, each organization, each business, and each nation acts in order to further its own best interests, we cannot expect lawmakers in the United States to lead us out of the drug war. The people of the United States must end the horribly destructive, failed policy of punitive prohibition through state initiatives, starting in California in 2010 with the regulation, taxation, and control of cannabis. Soon, other states will follow, then the world. We, the people of the United States must lead when our politicians are paralyzed by their own short term interests. See the larger game for what it is. Vote in 2010 to support the end of the war on drugs. We all have the same goals in mind: to reduce the harms associated with drug abuse and to protect children from all drugs by taking control of the drugs back from the street criminals. It is all economics, my friends, and neither our politicians nor the bankers who put them in office stand to benefit in the short run from a drastic drop in the price of marijuana and other drugs. Use will stay down if education becomes a national focus, but it must be honest education, not based in fear but instead based in science with the best interests of all of humanity in mind.

Nicely written!

Said it all.

Clear statement

More and more folks are seeing this issue clearly. Thanks, Ty.

GO GO GO !!!!

Common My Beloved Country Stop This Madness Think About What Would The Mexican Revolutionary Tokin Hero Pancho Villa Say About All This If He Was Still Alive !!???? I Think He Would Have Blasted Everyone In The Mexican Capital For Beeing Idiots He Helped The country and gave it respect while he was at war puffin a blunt theres actually pictures of him smoking weed with the other captains he commanded!!

Mexico Legalization

The legalization of weed in Mexico would be a good thing for the Mexican people and serve as a moral victory against the USA.

Legalization in Mexico will not end the violence however, because the drug gangs in Mexico are not fighting for control of the drug trade with in Mexico, they are fighting each other and the Mexican government for control of the export market to the USA. As long as the USA continues to keep weed illegal the drug gangs in Mexico will still be fighting for the export market. The USA will still fund the violence by the Mexican government upon the drug gangs there, continuing the war.

It will not end the violence

It will not end the violence in Mexico if they legalize marijuana,but the majority of it will be then focused on the United States if the Mexican government stops fighting the drug cartels. The cartels would have little motivation to kill officials who are not stopping them from exporting plants from their country, putting the pressure on the United States to legalize in order to prevent our officials from being targeted by these gangs. But as the president of Mexico says himself-he is worried about what the reaction will be from American politicians if he did legalize Marijuana. Imagine that-the leader of a U.N. nation afraid of the worlds' largest democracy with the worlds' highest incarceration rate. You can't incarcerate your citizens out of this problem people: the longer you keep ignoring this problem, the worse it will get. Perhaps it's finally time for science to prevail in the policies of Nations in our modern age. The constitution of the United States begins as " We the People"-Not "We the special interests":and most of the people(62%) think the drug war has failed; and the majority(52%) believe marijuana should be taxed and regulated. When will politicians again be servants of the republic and it's people? When we ALL demand they do so.

It will not end the violence

It will not end the violence in Mexico if they legalize marijuana,but the majority of it will be then focused on the United States if the Mexican government stops fighting the drug cartels. The cartels would have little motivation to kill officials who are not stopping them from exporting plants from their country, putting the pressure on the United States to legalize in order to prevent our officials from being targeted by these gangs. But as the president of Mexico says himself-he is worried about what the reaction will be from American politicians if he did legalize Marijuana. Imagine that-the leader of a U.N. nation afraid of the worlds' largest democracy with the worlds' highest incarceration rate. You can't incarcerate your citizens out of this problem people: the longer you keep ignoring this problem, the worse it will get. Perhaps it's finally time for science to prevail in the policies of Nations in our modern age. The constitution of the United States begins as " We the People"-Not "We the special interests":and most of the people(62%) think the drug war has failed; and the majority(52%) believe marijuana should be taxed and regulated. When will politicians again be servants of the republic and it's people? When we ALL demand they do so.

Prohibit Alcohol

If we can get the Americans to prohibit alcohol once again and keep the weed illegal then we can supply the booze and Mexico can continue to supply the buds. A win-win for everyone! Maybe then we can share the internet gambling market with Mexico. Eventually we'll suck all the money out of the US. Then the US will be "our bitch" rather than the other way around.

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