Drug Legalization Debate Intensifies in Mexico

By Jerry Kammer and Jerry Kammer on August 11, 2010

Mexican President Felipe Calderon's declaration last week that it is "fundamental" to discuss the pros and cons of legalizing drugs has sparked a spirited debate in Mexico. But Calderon has since made it clear that he is not calling for legalization, and yesterday he pointed to the United States as a key factor in the discussion.

Said Calderon: "If drugs are not legalized (elsewhere) in the world, or if drugs are not legalized at least in the United States, this (legalization) is simply absurd, because the price of drugs is not determined in Mexico. The price of drugs is determined by consumers in Los Angeles, or in New York, or in Chicago, or Texas."

Most of the debate has concerned the potential legalization of marijuana. In yesterday's Reforma newspaper, columnist Frederico Reyes Heroles noted that "the great majority of the income" of Mexico's brutal and warring drug cartels comes from marijuana. Legalization, he said, would reduce the price, establish a market and allow for taxation. Then he cited benefits that would be even more important to the future of the country.

"But above all there would be a transition from illegality to legality in the lives of hundreds of thousands of Mexicans," Reyes Heroles continued. "The state would emerge strengthened from a terrible crucible in which the policy of pursuing a product widely consumed in the United States has weakened Mexican institutions and security and development itself."