Weed Legalization Could Set Off A Radical Chain Of Events In Latin America

The top advisor to incoming Mexican president Peña Nieto said the world's first full legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington “changes the rules of the game” in the war on drugs, The Washington Post reports.

Mexican officials have called for a review of joint U.S.-Mexico drug policies because, as Mexican Congressman Manlio Fabio Beltrones pointed out, " the largest consumer in the world has liberalized its laws.”

Over the last six years Mexico has spent billions of dollars per year to combat drug trafficking only to see cartels become stronger and more than 100,000 Mexicans be killed.

We reported that U.S. voters may have won the Drug War on Tuesday because one or more states growing weed could meet most of domestic demand  and  sink cartel revenues, but Codirector of RAND Drug Policy Research Center Beau Kilmer reminded us that the U.S. government will have something to say about that.

"The scenario where a state or two ends up dominating all of the U.S. market, that requires some really big assumptions," Kilmer told BI. " I have a hard time imagining that the federal government and other states would let that happen."

Imminent resistance aside, the U.S. government may no longer be in the position to force its drug crusade on other countries. 

“What happened on Tuesday was a game changer," drug analyst Alejandro Hope from the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness told Time. “Now it would be very hard for the U.S. to tell people not to legalize marijuana.”

Even prior to Tuesday,  prominent voices including America's closest South American allies, President Obama's drug czar Gil Kerlikowske, Former President of Mexico Vincente Fox, Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper, The Global Commission on Drug Policy and the Council on Hemispheric Affairs have stated that the U.S.-led drug policy of criminalizing drug use and employing military tactics to fight traffickers has been a failure.

So the U.S. government faces a dilemma: does it double down on a decades-long losing war or accept failure and rethink it's position on drugs, especially its extreme stance on marijuana?

One Mexican national-security expert estimated that the Sinaloa cartel, Mexico's oldest and most powerful, moves a kilo of cocaine over the U.S. border about every 10 minutes. Sinaloa has also been flooding key U.S. cities with   heroin and methamphetamine.

And yet weed (along with heroin) is classified as a Schedule I substance—meaning that it has "no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the U.S."—while cocaine, along with meth, is a Schedule II substance.

Mexico may provide a solution by not cooperating with the U.S. drug crusade.

“Why are Mexican troops … searching for tunnels, patrolling the borders, when once [marijuana] reaches Colorado it becomes legal?" Jorge Castañe­da, a former foreign minister of Mexico and an advocate for ending what he calls an “absurd war,” told The Post.

The irony for the U.S. government is that Mexico, and the rest of the world, now has a U.S. precedent to cite when creating blueprints for a post-Drug War world.

Now we are not like madmen in the desert," Jorge Hernández, president of the Collective for an Integral Drug Policy and legalization advocate, told Time. "This transforms the debate.” 

SEE ALSO: How Drug Cartels Conquered Mexico [MAPS] > 



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