HomeNewsBriefMexico’s President Joins Regional Debate on Marijuana Legalization
BRIEF

Mexico’s President Joins Regional Debate on Marijuana Legalization

DRUG POLICY / 10 JUN 2014 BY KYRA GURNEY EN

Mexico's President Enrique Peña Nieto has said he is willing to discuss legalizing marijuana, becoming the latest regional leader to question the drug prohibition paradigm and begin to confront the failures of interdiction-based policies.

In an interview with El Pais, Peña Nieto called anti-drug measures employed over the last 30 to 40 years "failed" policies, stating that they had led to increases in both consumption and production. He argued that with the recreational use of marijuana now legal in two US states -- Colorado and Washington -- it did not make sense for Mexico to have policies that differed from those of the "most important consumer market" for Mexican drugs. 

Although the president clarified that he personally opposed legalizing marijuana, he said he was open to debating the issue.  

Following Peña Nieto's comments, an opposition party congressman who supported an initiative to legalize marijuana for medical purposes in Mexico told Reuters he expected the legalization trend to continue in the US, with the state of California likely to legalize in 2016. 

"Once California has permitted recreational marijuana, maintaining the ban in Mexico won't be sustainable," he said.

InSight Crime Analysis

Peña Nieto is the latest in a line of Latin American leaders to express discontent with the aggressive anti-drug policies promoted in the US-led "war on drugs," and to call for a reassessment of prohibitionist policies.

This rhetorical offensive has been backed by moves to liberalize drug laws in several countries. In December 2013, Uruguay became the first country in the world to approve legislation regulating the production, sale and consumption of marijuana. Meanwhile, Colombia, Ecuador, Argentina and Costa Rica have all decriminalized the possession of small amounts of this drug, and Jamaica plans to follow suit.

SEE ALSO: Uruguay: Marijuana, Organized Crime and the Politics of Drugs

Mexico has also taken steps towards liberalizing drug policy. As of 2009, Mexicans can legally carry up to five grams of marijuana, 500 milligrams of cocaine, and miniscule quantities of heroin and methamphetamine (pdf). In February 2014, lawmakers in Mexico City also proposed legislation that would liberalize laws regarding marijuana use in the nation's capital.

While the United States federal government has so far resisted such changes, as Peña Nieto commented, its case has been undermined by similar moves in several US states.

This is especially relevant for Mexico, which provides at least 40 percent of marijuana consumed in the United States, according to some estimates (pdf). Moves to decriminalize possession and use of marijuana and other drugs may be welcomed by drug reform campaigners, but unless both production and sales are regulated as well, profits from the trade will remain in the hands of criminal groups.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

MEXICO / 25 MAY 2012

Mexico has suffered a rash of deadly attacks against journalists, made worse by a report suggesting that some of…

MEXICO / 7 AUG 2012

Reports of a split between the two leaders of Mexico’s notorious Zetas drug gang suggest that a violent power struggle may be…

JUAREZ CARTEL / 12 NOV 2010

With 350 assassinations in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, October will go down as the most violent month in 2010 for that…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Apure Investigation Makes Headlines

22 OCT 2021

InSight Crime’s investigation into the battle for the Venezuelan border state of Apure resonated in both Colombian and Venezuelan media. A dozen outlets picked up the report, including Venezuela’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.