When Canada moved to end marijuana prohibition nationwide, there was a belief the move would inspire more nations to step up and possibly implement similar reforms. The cannabis advocacy community had hoped that the United States would be the first to use the modification in drug policy as an excuse to usher in higher times across the Land of the Free. However, Mexico is reportedly eyeballing the cannabis laws in Canada as a means for controlling the cartel violence that has, for the past several decades, turned the country into a gory scene that rivals any horror film.
Just last week, Mexico’s president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s administration met with the Canadian government to learn more about the legalization of marijuana. The country’s soon-to-be foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, now says that Mexico “absolutely” could borrow a chapter out of Canada’s approach to castrating organized crime by legalizing marijuana for recreational use.
Ebrand, who met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, believes legal weed “is a very interesting option in the short term for Mexico.” The country is looking at both the “the Canadian model” and the “Uruguay model,” he said.
Mexico has already taken some baby steps in this direction. Last year, the country legalized a low-THC medical marijuana program nationwide. But the country’s drug cartels continue to supply the nation with most of its marijuana, and that continues to contribute to some of the most violent times the world has ever seen. Tens of thousands of people (21,857 between January and August) are tortured and killed every year as a result of cannabis and other drugs being controlled by criminal organizations in the country.
There are presently motions underway challenging Mexico’s marijuana prohibition laws. Three favorable rulings have already been logged by The Mexican Supreme Court. Justices need to make five uniform decisions on the matter to bring about any change. But running the issue through the courts is not enough, says attorney Aguinaco Gómez Mont.
“If the court continues acting alone, but Congress contributes nothing, nor does the Executive branch, if the media does not generate pressure, if activists don’t take to the street, there isn’t going to be any change,” Mont said.
That level of support could present itself the second president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador takes the reins on December 1.
Following his election over the summer, he vowed to eliminate the military approach to the drug war, pardon non-violent drug offenders and target “the root causes of crime and violence.” The administration came out of the gate considering the legalization of drugs to achieve this objective. We will do “whatever is necessary to restore peace to this country,” said incoming interior minister Olga Sánchez Cordero.
The legalization of marijuana would be an important step. A recent report from the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC), which calls the UN’s methods for fighting the illicit dope trade a “spectacular failure in drug policy,” finds marijuana is the leading illicit substance in the world, followed by opioids and amphetamines.
“It doesn’t make sense to have a law forbidding the possession or production of cannabis and we have 9,000 people in jail for that, we have a huge amount of violence in the country,” Ebrard said. “You spend a huge amount of money (on policing), you cause suffering for a lot of people and it doesn’t make sense.”