A debate over legalizing marijuana and possibly other drugs – once a taboo suggestion – is percolating in Mexico, a nation exhausted by runaway violence and a deadly drug war, according to McClatchy Newspapers. The controversy is only likely to grow more animated if Californians approve an initiative on Nov. 2 to legalize marijuana for recreational use in their state. Mexicans are keeping a close eye on the vote, seeing it as a bellwether. “If they vote ‘yes’ to approve the full legalization of marijuana, I think it will have a radical impact in Mexico,” said Jorge Hernandez Tinajero, a political scientist at the National Autonomous University.
Discussion about legalization entered the Mexican agenda last month, the outcome of President Felipe Calderon’s pressing need to win more public support for waging war against criminal organizations profiting hugely from drug trafficking. In a series of open forums with politicians and civic leaders about faltering security, Calderon found himself amid a groundswell of suggestions that legalization – which he described as “absurd” – should be considered. Among those throwing their weight behind legalization was former President Vicente Fox, a member of Calderon’s own conservative National Action Party. “We should consider legalizing the production, distribution and sale of drugs,” Fox wrote. Calderon said Mexico couldn’t act on its own to legalize: “If drugs are not legalized in the world, or if drugs are not legalized at least in the United States, this is simply absurd, because the price of drugs is not determined in Mexico. The price of drugs is determined by consumers in Los Angeles, or in New York, or in Chicago or Texas.”