Will Mexico Legalize Marijuana?

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With the potential for a huge economic boost by way of exports, Mexico has only one real barrier to legalizing marijuana: how soon it becomes legal in the United States.

According to an article from the Marijuana Policy Project, ex-Presidente Vincente Fox is on board with the idea and predicts legal pot in his country within five years. The current political climate isn’t pro-weed, and Mexico’s current president has come out against legalization. But Fox said, “Once California gets into this, Mexico is going to speed up its decision process.”

Legalization in US could damage Mexican economy

The incentives to legalize parallel the same economic factors U.S. states feel – tax marijuana and get a boost from legalization. But for Mexico, who is already the number one supplier of illegal marijuana to the U.S., the stakes are even higher. Legal marijuana in the U.S., without legal marijuana in Mexico, changes the export-import picture – and not in Mexico’s favor.

Should legalization spread from Colorado and Washington to California and Oregon (which may go fully legal this November), in-state growers have an advantage: no fear of arrest or prosecution. Assuming smuggling marijuana adds a huge overhead, the in-state growers may squeeze out the illegal drug cartels. From Mexico’s point of view, that’s some serious cash that won’t make it into their economy.

So far, the general feeling in Mexico is that marijuana should remain illegal (it is, except for Mexico City, where use is tolerated if not condoned). There’s no push for legalization like there is in the U.S. Of course, making weed legal in Mexico is no guarantee that imports will be allowed. International agreements on the movement of drugs might interfere.

War on drugs expensive, not stopping cartels

Meanwhile, Vincente Fox has become quite an advocate for legalization. He’s been speaking at various events in the U.S. – publicly proclaiming his opposition to current marijuana prohibition. He cites the overwhelming costs that burden his country. Both military and police expenditures to fight the war on drugs, including marijuana, have hit Mexico hard. And the cartels don’t seem to be damaged much by the efforts. Switching from illegal – and under cartel control – to legal and regulated is thought to be one way to take away some of the cartel funding.

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