Mexico considers change to Marijuana policy

Michael Roberts |

The response to Amendment 64’s passage has gone international, with Felipe Calderon, Mexico’s president suggesting that his country’s pot policies may have to change as a result of the measure, as well as a similar one approved in Washington. A marijuana analyst sees the comments as evidence Mexico and other the Latin American nations would like to move toward cannabis legalization and view A64 as a way to raise the subject.

“Prohibition has been a failed public policy in the United States,” says Dan Riffle, a legislative analyst with the Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project — one of the principal funders of Amendment 64’s campaign. “But in Mexico, it’s been lethal. It’s been catastrophic.”

Riffle is using these terms literally. “There have been 50,000 deaths” related to drug trade in Mexico, he says. “That’s about how many servicemen we lost in the Vietnam war. And I think it’s been pretty clear for a while that Mexico has been sending signals as best they can that we need to look at legalization as an alternative to a failed policy.”

Calderon was not nearly so explicit in remarks made in Mexico City yesterday. As reported by CBS, he met there with Honduran President Porfirio Lobo, Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla and Prime Minister Dean Barrow of Belize. Afterward, Calderon was quoted as saying, “It has become necessary to analyze in depth the implications for public policy and health in our nations emerging from the state and local moves to allow the legal production, consumption and distribution of marijuana in some countries of our continent.”

He added that marijuana legalization measures by these states — meaning Colorado and Washington, whose pot measure is known as Initiative 502 — represents “a paradigm change on the part of those entities in respect to the current international system.”

Granted, Calderon won’t be on the job for much longer; he was elected in 2006 to a single six-year term. But while President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto is publicly opposed to drug legalization, CBS points out that he’s promised to focus more on preventing violence against the citizenry as a whole as opposed to pouring all of the nation’s resources into a duel to the death with drug cartels. Moreover, Calderon’s predecessor, Vicente Fox, is now an advocate for broad drug legalization.

“After he left office, Fox made the conversion immediately,” Riffle says. “And President Calderon has been talking about market solutions. I think that once he’s out of office, he’ll become a full-throated advocate for legalization.”

Such sentiments have been tough for leaders in Mexico to voice while they’re still in office, Riffle acknowledges. However, he sees change on the horizon.