Mexican President Calls For Debate On Legalizing Marijuana


Photo: Alejandro Bringas/Reuters
Mexican soldiers stand guard, pretending they don’t have a buzz as bales of marijuana go up in smoke

​It seems that top Mexican officials, weary of their bloody and protracted drug war, have been been subtly pushing the U.S. for some time to seriously consider marijuana legalization. Now, with the sitting president calling for a debate, it’s not so subtle anymore.

Responding to out-of-control violence related to the illegal drug trade, Mexican President Calderon on Tuesday said he is open to a debate on the legalization of marijuana and other drugs.
​Calderon called the increasingly widespread public discussion of legalization “a fundamental debate.”

Mexico President Felipe Calderon: Legalization is “a fundamental debate”

“You have to analyze carefully the pros and cons of the argument on both sides,” Calderon said.
In response to President Calderon’s call for a debate on drug legalization, 34-year veteran police officer Norm Stamper, called on President Obama to join the debate on legalizing marijuana. Stamper was formerly chief of police in Seattle and now a speaker with the group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) and an advisor to the Just Say Now campaign.
“President Calderon’s call for a debate on legalization is a big step forward in putting an end to the war raging in Mexico and along our borders,” Stamper said. “More than 28,000 people have been killed by Mexico’s drug cartels since 2006 — including 1,200 in July, the deadliest month yet in the Drug War.”
“Legalizing marijuana is the most sensible approach to stopping the border war,” Stamper said. “Cartels thrive on marijuana prohibition. Around 70 percent of the cartels’ profits come from the illegal sale of marijuana, which they turn around to buy guns that have killed thousands of Mexicans and that terrorize police on America’s streets.”
“Just Say Now welcomes President Calderon to this debate,” Stamper said. “We hope that President Obama will join this debate to end the war on marijuana.”
“Those that suggest that some of these [legalization]measures need to be looked at understand the dynamics of the drug trade,” Arturo Sarukhan, Mexico’s ambassador to the United States, said last year.
Sarukhan added that the idea “needs to be taken seriously” by officials on “both sides of the border: both in producing, in trafficking, and in consumption countries.”
Three former presidents — Cesar Gaviria of Colombia, Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico and Fernando Cardoso of Brazil — last year urged Latin American countries to consider legalizing marijuana to undermine a major source of income for the cartels. Mexico’s congress has also debated the issue.
But Calderon has long maintained he is opposed to the idea. The Mexican president’s office issued a second statement hours after the first one, saying that while Calderon was “open to debate on the issue,” he remains “against the legalization of drugs.”