Updated 07:18 AM EDT, Sat, Apr 10, 2021

Mexico Marijuana Legalization: Movement Gaining Momentum In Neighboring Country?

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Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto hinted on Sunday that he may be open to reforming Mexico's laws relating to the legalization of marijuana in response to the recent legalization trend in the United States.

According to Reuters, the pressure is mounting on Mexican politicians to follow suit with their American counterparts in states like Colorado and Washington, where marijuana was recently legalized for both commercial sale and recreational use.

Those in favor of such reform claim that by legalizing marijuana, Mexico would increase tax dollars and diminish the revenue stream of the drug cartels, who have perpetuated the ongoing drug war that has plagued Mexico over the past several years. In addition to other controlled substances like crystal meth and cocaine, marijuana comprises a significant component of economic revenue for the cartels, and limiting this revenue is seen as a way of hopefully weakening the cartels' power and influence in the region.

President Nieto conceded in an interview with El Pais that the country's official policies with respect to marijuana have failed over the last 30 to 40 years, as they have amounted to increased consumption and production of marijuana and other drugs. And while he admitted he is personally opposed to the legalization of cannabis, Nieto acknowledged that the country's legal stance on the matter "needs to be reviewed," especially since Mexico's closest neighbor and biggest marijuana consumer, the United States, appears to be taking steps to legalize the drug nation-wide.

Nieto's hesitance to directly call for the drug's legalization may have to do with more than just his own personal convictions. Domestic polls show a majority of Mexicans still oppose legalizing marijuana outright. Yet while the population is still wary of a complete reformation of the country's drug laws, there are still signs that the consensus has shifted. According to an April opinion poll published by the lower house of Congress, 73 percent of Mexicans supported legalizing marijuana as a means of medicinal therapy.

According to Reuters, Mexican congressman Fernando Belaunzaran claims the movement towards legalizing marijuana is gaining momentum that appears to be unstoppable, and he fully expects California to follow Washington and Colorado's lead and legalize the drug in 2016, a move which would all but guarantee and end to Mexico's current ban.

Mexico has taken small steps recently to soften their overall stance on drug possession by making it legal for citizens to carry up to 5 grams of marijuana and 500 milligrams of cocaine on their person. Yet proponents of change claim greater reforms are necessary in order to more significantly impact the violence and crime in Mexico associated with drug trafficking.

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