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Mexico eyes legalization of marijuana in two U.S. states warily

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 12th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

In the recent presidential election, the two U.S. states of Colorado and Washington legalized recreational marijuana use to adults over the age of 21. While the wording of these new laws will come under federal scrutiny - it is still a federal offense to grow, sell and use marijuana in the U.S., the nation of Mexico is eying the latest developments with great interest. Among the world's biggest supplier of marijuana, will the U.S.A.'s southern neighbor gain - or lose with the easy availability of pot?

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Under Mexican President Felipe Calderon, Mexico embarked on a disastrous "war on drugs" that used its military to stem the flow of marijuana and cocaine into the United States. Thousands of people - many of them unarmed, uninvolved civilians being killed in a deadly crossfire engaged between agents and dealers. On the other hand - with profits from marijuana pumping illicit money into the Mexican economy, will there also be an economic backlash as well?

"Legalization doesn't solve the problem, because cocaine generates the biggest profits," Jorge Javier Romero, a professor at the department of politics and culture in the Autonomous Metropolitan University in Mexico City says. "It has to be approached as a foreign policy issue, because Mexico doesn't have a drug use problem - it's the United States that has a drug abuse problem."

According to the report, "Si los vecinos legalizan" (If the neighbors legalize), produced by Alejandro Hope and Eduardo Clark of the non-governmental Mexican Institute for Competitiveness, approximately 30 million of the United States' 312 million inhabitants use a total of 3,700 tons of marijuana a year, which has a retail value of $15 to $30 billion,.

Of the marijuana consumed in the U.S., 40 to 67 per cent comes from Mexico, where drug cartels take in some $2 billion a year from trafficking the drug, which is mainly grown in western and southern states.

During President Calderon's deadly war on drugs, at least 90,000 people were killed, 10,000 went missing and 250,000 were forced to flee their homes, according to the estimates of human rights groups.

The legalization of drugs in the United States "would be the most significant structural clash that drug trafficking has experienced in a generation . and would transform the terms of the debate on drugs," the IMCO study says.

John Walsh, the drug policy expert at the Washington Office on Latin America, states the issue plainly in his article, "Taking the Initiative." "Even if only one U.S. state were to approve legalization, the decision would reverberate throughout the hemisphere, where the drug policy debate has opened up dramatically."

Mexican president-elect Enrique Peņa, of the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party has talked about a change in law enforcement strategies, but has not given any details.

According to the IMCO report, the legalization of marijuana in the U.S. would lead to an entirely different set of problems - one where marijuana, along with other drugs, are shipped FROM the U.S. into Mexico.

The IMCO report also adds that the Mexican government should not legalize the production and sale of marijuana until US federal laws on the matter have been clearly defined.

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