A coalition of prominent Mexican leaders, including former ministers, businessmen, artists and a Nobel Prize-winning scientist, called for the government to decriminalize marijuana in an attempt to lower levels of gang violence and corruption.
Roughly 80,000 people have been killed since 2007 in turf wars between drug cartels as well as armed conflict with security forces. This shocking figure has led many prominent figures in Mexico to call for a change in policy from the U.S.-led war on drugs.
An advertisement ran in newspapers across Mexico that urged for the decriminalization of cannabis, and was put together by a diverse group of influential members of Mexican society.
Among those that signed off on the ad were several former ministers from the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, famous actors, Media Tycoon Ricardo Salina Pliego (one of Mexico’s richest men), and Nobel Laureate for chemistry, Mario Molina.
The ad argued that the continued poliy of prohibition made narcotics more lucrative for cartels, noted that many U.S. States had already decriminalized cannabis, and that Uruguay was on the verge of out right legalization.
Since 2007, about 80,000 people have been killed in turf wars between drug cartels and their clashes with security forces, leading to calls for a change in policy in Mexico and elsewhere in the U.S.-led war on drugs.
The advertisement which argued for the decriminalization of cannabis was put together by one of the most diverse coalitions pushing for change in Mexico. Those lobbying included a number of influential figures in public life.
Among the signatories were several former ministers from the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, famous actors, media tycoon Ricardo Salinas Pliego, one of Mexico’s richest men, and 1995 Nobel laureate for chemistry, Mario Molina.
The ad argued that criminalization made narcotics more lucrative for cartels, noted that a number of U.S. states had liberalized marijuana laws and that Uruguay’s Congress was taking steps to legalize the cultivation and sale of the drug.
In 2009, Mexico passed legislation which made it legal to carry up to 5 grams of marijuana, 500 milligrams of cocaine, and very small amounts of heroin and methamphetamines. In spite of that step away from prohibition, then President Felipe Calderon vowed to rid Mexico of its violent cartels by sending in heavily armed forces to fight them. When Calderon introduced these security forces, violence skyrocketed and nearly 70,000 people were killed in drug related crime on his watch.
Mexico’s current President, Enrique Pena Nieto, has vowed to reduce the killings, and while they have gone down, roughly 1,000 people are killed in drug-related gang activity every month. Nieto has expressed that he opposes any relaxation of drug laws in Mexico, though said he is willing to debate the matter. With such influential members of Mexican society as former presidents, a Nobel Laureate, and some of the country’s wealthiest individuals calling for reform, that debate could happen sooner rather than later. Mexico City has already passed other liberal legislation such as legalizing gay marriage, and the ad touched on that as well, stating that, “Public opinion in the capital is increasingly tolerant of individual choices and could also be regarding marijuana use, with a view to a more complete regulation in future.”
Senior officials in the Party of the Democratic Revolution, which runs Mexico City, say the party could put forward a proposal to relax marijuana laws in the capital later this year.