Mexico: legalizing marijuana, a security strategy

A noise of crumbling and then of wet paper echoes in the speakers of the Chamber of Deputies. Hirepan Maya, elected from the ruling Morena party (National Regeneration Movement, left), finishes rolling his joint in front of the microphone: “It is a historic law that will mark a turning point in the international regulation of the consumption of marijuana.” After the adoption of the text by the deputies in March, the Senate must still discuss the last points, in particular the creation of a Mexican Institute of Marijuana, before validating it this summer.

Creation of a large legal market

Mexico would thus join Canada, Uruguay and certain states of the United States. Possessing up to 28 grams of cannabis and sowing up to eight plants at home would be allowed. But it is not so much the decriminalization of the consumer as the creation of a large legal market, as well as the fight against organized crime other than by arms, which motivates elected officials.

→ READ. “Project Cartel”, journalists united for the truth

Morena member Arturo Hernández believes that the military war on trafficking launched by right-wing President Felipe Calderón (2006-2012) “Caused more damage than harm to health”. Because Mexico continues to count its deaths: the National Institute of Statistics estimates that the number of homicides has reached an average of 35,000 deaths per year over the last three years, against 8,867 in 2007.

A war without bombardments or shells, but which involves the cartels, the police and the army – sometimes in the pay of organized crime. According to the Semáforo Delictivo citizen observatory, 80% of homicides are attributable to the war on drugs. ” With legalization, violence could decrease, juge Santiago Roel, director of Criminal Traffic Light. The black market fights on economic principles. We will take this market away from the cartels with money, not bullets ”. In 2016, a study by the Mexican Senate estimated the income of criminal groups from the sale of marijuana in the United States to be between one and two billion dollars per year and forecast a drop from 15% to 26% with the adoption of the text.

For regulation of all drugs

But the drug cartels have other resources. “Organized crime is not limited to cannabis, objects Lisa Sanchez, director of the NGO Mexicans united against delinquency. Cartels have diversified their economy. Their income and crime will not necessarily go down. “

“Marijuana does not represent more than 5% of their economy, assures Romain Le Cour, researcher at Noria, a research organization on violence in Mexico and Central America. It is now much less of an issue for traffickers than synthetic substances. “

Moreover, certain elected officials or organizations also plead for the regulation of all drugs. “The decriminalization of heroin in Switzerland is a good example, advance Santiago Roel. Consumption has not increased. “ According to him, the inhabitants are not likely to sink into the overconsumption of these synthetic substances, more expensive and intended for the richest countries. ” You do not have to be afraid. The lead policy is far more toxic than any drug. “

Fighting against petty crime, a challenge for Mexico

Mexico’s challenge lies rather in its capacity to make progress in the fight against petty crime: authorizing cannabis means stopping distracting the police, judges or investigators, so that they concentrate their resources in the fight against them. real crimes. “That said, there is no real motivation from the authorities to reorient the work of the police or to relieve the judicial system”, laments Lisa Sanchez.

This law should also not benefit rural populations, who have been producing marijuana for seventy years. ” Legalization will mainly benefit large farmers, and not small farmers who will not be included in this legal economy. However, thanks to this reform, they could have escaped poverty », Believes Romain Le Cour. A missed opportunity for Mexico to respond to the inequalities that affect its rural population.

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Recreational cannabis around the world

December 2013. Uruguay becomes the first country in the world to legalize the recreational use, production and sale of cannabis. On October 17, 2018, Canada followed suit.

November 2020. Several states in the United States have legalized recreational cannabis use for those over 21, bringing the number where cannabis is legal to 15.

Europe. In most countries, the decriminalization of personal cannabis use is underway.

France. Neither decriminalization nor legalization. The subject is under debate.

In many countries in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, cannabis is still considered a hard drug. Sentences can be heavy.

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