U.S. legalizes marijuana while Mexico's war on drugs continues

How this has caused a great debate

MEXICO.- The legalization of marijuana in two U.S. states threatens the fight against drugs in Mexico, and forces a review over strategy to give greater visibility to the debate on its consumption, according to analysts consulted by Efe.

In the opinion of former Foreign Minister Jorge Castañeda, the approval in Colorado and Washington for the decriminalization of the production, sale and consumption of marijuana is a "step towards ending the war" that was launched by President Felipe Calderon.

"It's a real travesty that Mexico is producing deaths (60,000 in Calderon's term), and putting money as well as international image to prevent the passage of a substance to the U.S., which some Americans have declared that they want it to be legal, " Castañeda said.

He also said that Mexico must now make the U.S. realize that "it is absurd to continue this war, this strategy failed for 40 years now, despite of what some voters have expressed."

Castañeda warned of the risk that some Mexican sectors are in favor of "pressuring" the U.S. president Barack Obama, "to impose federal laws that will consider marijuana an illegal drug in Colorado and Washington", which said it's something that we must fight.

However he said that Enrique Peña Nieto, who takes office Dec. 1 "will not fall into that," after recent statements from the team coordinator Luis Vedegaray who described the transition as "very successful".

"We are attentive to these important modifications that will change the game with the U.S., and that will lead us to revise the joint policies against drug trafficking," said Videgaray, who nevertheless said that Peña Nieto rejects the legalization.

"This is exactly what we should proceed with, "said Castañeda, who also noted the position of some Latin American leaders in regards to the regulation of drugs, and the search for alternatives different to the current strategy, which "clearly shows a trend" in the region.

He lamented that Mexico is "the country most affected by the punitive strategy", instead of being in the lead, it's "in the rear of this trend and even resisting it."

In statements made to EFE, the journalist Marco Lara stressed that the decision of Washington and Colorado denotes the "certainty" of the failure of the criminalization of drug use, which is evident at least for a decade now.

"This is good news because it keeps up the debate on the debacle and humanitarian costs of drug policy imposed by the White House," while acknowledging that there are "other relevant components that decriminalize consumption."

Although he admitted that it is "an important precedent", the expert on drug trafficking also said that he had "serious doubts" about a change in the current Mexican strategy of the Peña Nieto Administration (PRI).

"I doubt that they have the sensitivity, autonomy and an open vision", otherwise "we would not have Oscar Naranjo as a consultant in the area of drug policy," he said.

"Naranjo is the personification of the Columbia Plan, which is the institutionalization of criminalizing the consumption," Lara said, adding: "beyond the rhetoric, there are a number of facts showing that there will be continuity."

Calderon who recently called on the UN to lead an unprejudiced discussion about the war on drugs to find new approaches, "has pursued independent judgment", but in the implementation of drug policy has been "meek, slavish and uncritical, "he said.

His political force the National Action Party (PAN), said that legalizing marijuana endangers Mexico as criminal groups seek to obtain funds through other crimes, such as kidnapping and extortion, which would result in increased violence.

Within the PRI party opinions are divided, where there are those who reject the debate over the legalization and ask the U.S. Government a definite answer on the topic, while others voice their opinion in support for the need of an open and serious discussion without restrictions on the topic.

The left wing Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) welcomed a debate without taboos and fears about the decriminalization of drugs, which can help reduce violence in the country.

Mexican actor Gael García also considered that it is "absolutely necessary" for the decriminalization of marijuana, but not other drugs, and pointed out that it "may cause a change of the war on drugs imposed (Richard) Nixon."


Translation : Omar.Martinez@sandiegored.com


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