Legal U.S. Pot Won’t Bring Peace to Mexico

January 22, 2014

marijuana leafBloomberg, 01/21/2014

Since Jan. 1, Colorado has had a legal marijuana market. The same will soon be true in Washington State, once retail licenses are issued. Other states, such as California and Oregon, will likely follow suit over the next three years.

So does this creeping legalization of marijuana in the U.S. spell doom for the Mexican drug cartels? Not quite. The illegal marijuana trade provides Mexican organized crime with about $1.5 billion to $2 billion a year. That’s not chump change, but according to a number of estimates, it represents no more than a third of gross drug export revenue. Cocaine is still the cartels’ biggest money-maker and the revenue accruing from heroin and methamphetamine aren’t trivial. Moreover, Mexican gangs also obtain income from extortion, kidnapping, theft and various other types of illegal trafficking. Losing the marijuana trade would be a blow to their finances, but it certainly wouldn’t put them out of business.

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Mexico City Mulls Legal Marijuana Clubs

September 6, 2013

The Huffington Post, 9/6/2013

marijuana leafThe Mexico City council is considering the legalization of cannabis plants and the creation of private marijuana smoking “clubs” as it mulls controversial legislation to liberalize consumption, lawmakers said.

The capital hosted a three-day forum on drug policy amid a growing debate in Latin America over the course of the region’s deadly struggle against narcotrafficking, with President Enrique Pena Nieto taking a stance against legalization.

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Mexico’s Vicente Fox pushes marijuana debate to forefront

September 3, 2013

marijuanaThe Los Angeles Times, 9/3/2013

Former President Vicente Fox grew up on a farm here in rural Guanajuato, one of Mexico’s most conservative states. He is the kind of guy who wears big belt buckles, collects hand-tooled saddles and worships the free market.

Ask him about his experience with the drug culture and the big man with the cowboy-movie mustache exhibits a kind of straight-laced pique: Never smoked pot, he says. Hardly knew anyone who did.

But Fox has always fancied himself a policy maverick. And these days, the former standard-bearer of Mexico’s conservative National Action Party, or PAN, has emerged as one of Latin America’s most outspoken advocates of marijuana legalization.

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Op-ed: Legalizing marijuana in the U.S. will not end violence in Mexico

August 16, 2013

marijuana leafBy Alfredo Corchado, The Seattle Times, 8/15/2013

If only it was so easy — legalize pot and Mexico’s bloody nightmare would end. It won’t.

As a correspondent for The Dallas Morning News I’ve had a front-row seat to the massacre in my homeland, Mexico. Like many other colleagues, I’ve witnessed Mexico’s descent into darkness as brutal cartels continue to fight each other for plazas — parlance for illicit corridors that lead north with, among other products, tons of marijuana for the insatiable, biggest market in the world: my adopted homeland, the United States.

As I’ve witnessed the collapse of institutions in a blood-soaked nation, and seen so many in my own profession forced into censorship, threatened or killed by powerful cartels, I too have asked the same question: Why doesn’t the U.S. just legalize this stuff, just like the states of Washington and Colorado, so we can put the nightmare behind us?

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Mexico and marijuana: A leaf out of Uruguay’s book?

August 12, 2013

Marijuana 2BBC News, 8/9/2013

Ten days ago, the lower house of Uruguay’s parliament passed a law legalizing marijuana, reflecting a growing sentiment in Latin America that the current prohibition on drugs should change. Could Mexico be next?

Arguably, Mexico has lost the most in the war on drugs, with tens of thousands of drug-related killings every year. But there are now calls for Mexico to take a leaf out of Uruguay’s book and pass similar legislation.

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China’s Xi Jinping Visits Mexico – Weekly News Summary: June 7

June 7, 2013

Coffee by Flikr user samrevelThe Mexico Institute’s “Weekly News Summary,” released every Friday afternoon summarizes the week’s most prominent Mexico headlines published in the English-language press, as well as the most engaging opinion pieces by Mexican columnists.

What the English-language press had to say…        

Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Mexico as part of a three-day Latin American tour. The AP interpreted the encounter between Xi and Peña Nieto – the second one this year – as a move by China to profit from Mexico’s opening economy (i.e. energy sector) and an effort by Mexico to close its large trade deficit with China. USA Today argued the visit also represented a desire by both nations to improve relations following a series of recent setbacks, including President Felipe Calderón’s audience with the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government’s decision to quarantine Mexican tourists following the H1N1 outbreak. The Economist opted for a more cynical view, arguing China’s decision to visit America’s “free-trade partners” in the region was meant as a retaliatory move following the Obama administration’s pivot to Asia.

Xi and Peña Nieto signed agreements on areas ranging from energy and mining to education and infrastructure. Increasing Chinese tourism to Mexico was one area of opportunity that the Mexican government seemed particularly interested in.

In the U.S., the Senate began debating the Gang of Eight’s immigration reform bill. The Wall Street Journal published a piece arguing immigration reform could improve Social Security’s finances as some 75 million baby boomers plan to retire and fewer young workers are available to keep the pension system afloat. The Atlantic, meanwhile warned that Republican opposition to reform could cost them the election in 2016.

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Mexico should legalize pot: ex-president

June 6, 2013

marijuana leafAFP, 6/5/2013

Ex-president Vicente Fox says Mexico should legalize marijuana to steal business back from violent drug cartels — and when it’s legal, he’s in (as a grower). “Once it is legitimate and legal, of course, I do some farming. I can do it myself,” the conservative former leader said from his ranch in San Francisco del Rincon.

Fox, a former Coca-Cola executive who was president from 2000-2006, surprised many when he was among early voices in Mexico calling for illegal drugs to be legalized, seeing it as the only way to break the cycle of violent crime. “Mexico should become an authorized producer, and export marijuana to places where it is already legal,” argued Fox, who is part of a group of former Latin American leaders pushing for drug legalization opposed by the United States.

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Ex-Mexico president praises Wash. pot businessmen

May 31, 2013

Vicente_Fox_2Associated Press, 5/30/2013

Washington state businessmen who say they’re trying to create the first national brand of marijuana received some heartfelt support Thursday from the former president of Mexico, Vicente Fox. Fox appeared at a news conference in Seattle, where he recounted how the war on drugs has ravaged his country and praised the states of Washington and Colorado for voting to legalize the recreational use of marijuana last fall.

At the news conference, former Microsoft manager Jamen Shively discussed his plans to launch a new marijuana brand named for his great-great grandfather, Diego Pellicer. He says his company is joining forces with a Washington state chain of medical marijuana dispensaries run by John Davis, the Northwest Patient Resource Center, as well as dispensaries in Colorado and California.

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Arizona mom jailed in Mexico on drug charges released

May 31, 2013

marijuana leafUSA Today, 5/31/2013

The Arizona mother of seven who has been held in Mexico on suspicion of drug smuggling has been released from jail. Yanira Maldonado walked out of the jail, hugged her husband and was greeted by well-wishers as officials closed the jail doors behind her. She was freed by a judge late Thursday after spending nine days in jail. She briefly spoke to reporters gathered outside the jail, saying she thanks God, her husband and her lawyer.

“I want to say, ‘Thank you,’ first to God because I’m free now,” Maldonado said, surrounded by family members. “I’m very grateful that I’m free, for my family, for my children.” She also thanked the media for bringing the international focus to her case. “Through you, my situation was extended to the whole world,” she said. Family spokesman Brandon Klippel, brother-in-law of Yanira Maldonado’s husband, said she would immediately cross the border into the United States.

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OAS Report Presents Legalization as ‘Drug War’ Alternative

May 22, 2013

marijuana leafThe Pan-American Post

On Friday, the Organization of American States (OAS) released a highly anticipated report on drugs and drug trafficking in the hemisphere, which for the first time includes decriminalization and legalization as potential and valid policy options in the hemisphere. Perhaps the most surprising conclusion in the report comes after its assertion that drug use must be addressed as a public health issue.  According to the OAS, “decriminalization of drug use needs to be considered as a core element in any public health strategy.” The report’s authors write that a shift is already underway to emphasize prevention, treatment and rehabilitation, as well as a change “from viewing drug users as criminals or accomplices of drug-traffickers to seeing them as victims and chronic addicts.”

Of course, decriminalization and legalization have long been opposed by the biggest market for illicit drugs in the hemisphere: the United States. Even as it has embraced the idea of drug policy as a public health issue, the U.S. has firmly rejected legalization as a solution to drug violence. This position was recently echoed by U.S. Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske in an op-ed in Colombia’s El Tiempo. However, with marijuana legalized in Colorado and Washington, and seven states likely to follow in the next few years, the government’s foreign policy position on drug legalization seems untenable. A potential test of this stance will come next week when Vice President Joe Biden arrives in Colombia next week as part of a regional tour.

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Click here to read the first and second parts of the OAS report.


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