Former officials and current celebrities have signed a petition advocating for the legalization of marijuana in Mexico, adding weight to the campaign to make Mexico City the next place to break away from the prohibitionist model.
The petition, put out by a group called "For the decriminalization of marijuana," claims that legalization would significantly limit the revenues of criminal groups. Other points include the overly harsh current penalties for carrying over five grams of marijuana (the currently legal limit for personal consumption), the limited negative effects of the drug compared with legal drugs like alcohol, and changing international perceptions towards legalization.
Among the signatories were former Government Secretary Fernando Gomez Mont, former Foreign Minister Jorge Castañeda, and film star Gael Garcia Bernal.
InSight Crime Analysis
The timely blessing of Mexican celebrities comes as Mexico City lawmakers prepare a bill that could legalize growing marijuana and consuming it in private clubs, putting the capital at the forefront of Mexico's legalization debate.
Mexico, one of the world's largest marijuana producers, has been forced to reconsider marijuana policy following legalization in some US states, as stated last year by the head of President Enrique Peña Nieto's transition team.
The drug-plagued nation is not alone, as other countries in the region have also begun to take up the legalization debate in the face of the failure of the US-led "war on drugs" to stem the flow of narcotics or the violence associated with trafficking. Leading the way is Uruguay, which is now close to becoming the first country to pass a bill regulating the sale, purchase and cultivation of the drug on a national scale.
As the petition states, such moves would remove an important source of revenue for organized crime groups, especially in Mexico, where cartels profit from both the domestic market and exports to the United States. However, criminal organizations have also shown a tremendous ability to adapt to changing conditions by finding new drug markets and expanding activities such as kidnapping and extortion, meaning they would likely find ways to make up for lost profit.