Officials in Mexico Say Marijuana Legalization Votes in U.S. Could Be a Game Changer

While recent marijuana legalization votes in WA and CO begin the process of reducing profits to Mexican drug cartels, officials in Mexico itself say that the votes are also important in the way their newly elected President handles the drug war.

An enlargeable map of the United Mexican States

An enlargeable map of the United Mexican States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“The legalization of marijuana forces us to think very hard about our strategy to combat criminal organizations, mainly because the largest consumer in the world has liberalized its laws,” said Manlio Fabio Beltrones, leader of Peña Nieto’s party in Mexico’s Congress. Aides to Mexican President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto say he will be discussing the drug war when he meets with President Obama later this month in Washington D.C. And the recent votes in the U.S. should figure heavily into those discussions.

A top adviser to President-elect Nieto says his boss does not think legalization is the answer, but that things must be reviewed in light of a possible new direction in the U.S.

“Obviously, we can’t handle a product that is illegal in Mexico, trying to stop its transfer to the United States, when in the United States, at least in part of the United States, it now has a different status,” Nieto’s adviser, LuisVidegaray said Wednesday. He also added that legalization “changes the rules of the game in the relationship with the United States” in regards to anti-drug efforts in Mexico.

So in the end, officials in Mexico may have no choice but to embrace legalization, which is certainly preferable to the incredible violence that now grips the country and has killed tens of thousands of innocent people just in the last 6 years.

But while top officials may still oppose legalization, many in Mexico see it as the only way to stop the killing, as it would destroy cartel profits and reduce their ability to fight each other and authorities.

“I think more and more Mexicans will respond in a similar fashion, as we ask ourselves why are Mexican troops up in the mountains of Sinaloa and Guerrero and Durango looking for marijuana, and why are we searching for tunnels, patrolling the borders, when once this product reaches Colorado it becomes legal,” said Jorge Castañe­da, a former foreign minister of Mexico and an advocate for ending what he calls an “absurd war.”

At least now the discussion has been started, and nothing can be done until officials start talking about these issues in a serious manner instead of just saying they will “stay the course.” We cannot stay the course because the course leads us further down a road of death and corruption.

A new path must be taken.

– Joe Klare

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