|Photo: Alejandro Bringas/Reuters|
|Mexican soldiers stand at attention, desperately trying to maintain a “military bearing” as the intoxicating smoke from bales of marijuana being burned billows over them|
Here’s a role reversal for you. Mexico is irritated at the United States for undercutting the Drug War.
As more U.S. states legalize medical marijuana, Mexican Secretary of Interior Fernando Gómez Mont is whining that the American medical marijuana trend is “worrisome” and that it “complicates in a grave way” Mexico’s battle against violent drug cartels.
When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton this week led a high-level U.S. delegation to Mexico to discuss strategies to counter drug trafficking, the issue came to a head, reports Tim Johnson in The Sacramento Bee.
|Graphic: Freaking News|
According to Clinton, law enforcement officials “are keeping close tabs” on medical marijuana dispensaries in the 14 states where such sales are permitted. Clinton added that she doesn’t think the growing number of states allowing medical marijuana is a major factor in the flow of marijuana from Mexico to the United States.
“We have not changed our laws, and we do not see this as a major contributor to the continuing flow of marijuana, the vast, vast majority of which is used for recreational purposes,” Clinton said.
The definite trend is for more states to permit medical marijuana use; New York seems poised to become the 15th state to do so.
Things are moving at an even faster (roach?) clip in California. The Golden State, which was the first in the nation to legalize medical marijuana in 1996, when voter initiative Proposition 215 passed, will have another measure on the ballot this November which would legalize personal marijuana possession and allow regulated sales to adults.
|Graphic: Estoy Pacheco|
According to a Mexican historian, Lorenzo Meyer Cossio, the government of our southern neighbor “feels offended” by the American medical marijuana trend.
If approved, the legalization initiative in California would ripple to Mexico, Meyer said, underscoring the difference in legal treatment and giving impetus to decriminalization efforts.
While the possession of very small amounts of drugs for personal use was legalized last year in Mexico, laws against larger quantities of marijuana and narcotics remain very tough, the result of American pressure dating back more than 50 years, Meyer said.
“It is inevitable that if this occurs in California, a neighboring state that is so important to us, that there will be repercussions here,” Meyer said.
Mexican marijuana production is skyrocketing, according to a report issued Thursday by the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Drug Intelligence Center. Pot production more than doubled, climbing to an estimated 21,500 metric tons in 2008, from 10,100 metric tons in 2005, according to the report.
Marijuana eradication efforts have been slashed as the military has turned its primary attention from illicit crop removal to combating violence from the drug cartels, the report said.
Many prominent policy experts believe that medical marijuana in the U.S., along with outright decriminalization, will eventually weaken the Mexican drug gangs.
“Any sort of authorized, regulated market for marijuana in the United States cannot be good for the bottom line of criminal cartels,” said Stephen Gutwillig, California director of the Drug Policy Alliance.