Prominent Mexicans urge government to decriminalize marijuana

MEXICO CITY Wed Sep 25, 2013 8:12pm EDT

1 of 4. A woman embraces her friend during a rally to demand the legalization of marijuana outside the Senate building in Mexico City, in this April 20, 2012 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Bernardo Montoya/Files

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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A broad spectrum of prominent Mexicans, including former ministers, businessmen, artists and a Nobel Prize-winning scientist, on Wednesday urged the government to decriminalize marijuana in a bid to curb gang violence and corruption.

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.

Wednesday's newspaper advertisement urging the decriminalization of cannabis brought together 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.

"Mexico has paid a high cost for applying the punitive policy of prohibition," the advertisement read.

"We know well that neither decriminalization nor any other individual measure represents a panacea to end the violence, corruption and lawlessness in Mexico. But effective decriminalization of marijuana consumption by raising the dose permitted for personal use is a step in the right direction."

In 2009, Mexico made it legal to carry up to 5 grams (0.18 ounces) of marijuana, 500 milligrams (0.018 ounces) of cocaine and tiny amounts of heroin and methamphetamines.

Despite that step, then-President Felipe Calderon staked his reputation on ridding Mexico of brutal drug cartels. He sent in the armed forces to fight them, but the violence rose, and around 70,000 people died in gang-related crime on his watch.

His successor, Enrique Pena Nieto, assumed the presidency in December vowing to reduce the killings. But while the death toll has fallen, the shootouts and executions still claim close to 1,000 lives a month in Latin America's second biggest economy.


Pena Nieto has so far opposed relaxing drug laws in the country, but says he is willing to debate the matter.

Former President Vicente Fox, a staunch advocate of drug reform, said in July he believed Mexico could legalize marijuana before Pena Nieto leaves office in 2018.

A notable signatory of Wednesday's announcement was former Finance Minister Pedro Aspe, a mentor of current Finance Minister Luis Videgaray, one of Pena Nieto's closest aides.

Others included actors Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna, two former health ministers, peace activist Javier Sicilia and Calderon's brother-in-law, Juan Ignacio Zavala.

Lawmakers have said Mexico City could serve as a launchpad for a change in drug policy. Mexico City's local center-left government has taken advantage of more liberal views in the capital to pass landmark laws such as legalizing gay marriage.

The public advertisement made the same argument.

"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," it read.

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.

(Additional reporting by Veronica Gomez; Editing by Stacey Joyce)

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Comments (3)
sw33tcookies wrote:
the greatest plant in the universe is almost free, LET FREEDOM RING….half the country now supports it

hundreds of thousands die from alcohol and tobacco each year, 0 die from marijuana, ever…

America’s war on drugs is a war on Americans

Sep 26, 2013 11:18am EDT  --  Report as abuse
goldenrules1 wrote:
Sanjay Gupta, neurosurgeon and CNN’s chief medical correspondent, is officially down with weed. In an article for CNN, the well-known

medical personality apologized for dismissing the scientific value of medical marijuana research.
“It doesn’t have a high potential for abuse, and there are very legitimate medical applications. In fact, sometimes marijuana is the only

thing that works,” he wrote. “We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize

for my own role in that.”
Gupta, who changed his mind while in the process of making documentary on the subject, “WEED,” found in a search of medical studies from

the past year that only 6 percent investigated potential benefits of the drug, rather than its harms.

Sep 28, 2013 12:53pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Paulpot wrote:
When you put an industry outside the laws of the land you hand it to anyone who is prepared to use violence to protect their business interests. The drug war forces violence into the community.

Only last week South American leaders addressing the UN, praised Colorado and Washington for leading the way and legalizing marijuana, and called for an end to the drug war that has caused so much bloodshed across their continent.

It is time to admit that the drug war has been a disaster and follow other nations around the world in condemning the drug war and calling for reform.

Oct 01, 2013 12:49am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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