World Turns on to U.S. Marijuana Legalization
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World Turns on to U.S. Marijuana Legalization
Posted by CN Staff on November 08, 2012 at 06:04:48 PT
By Ioan Grillo, Mexico City
Source: Time Magazine
World -- In April 2011, former Mexican President Vicente Fox sat before an audience at the University of Colorado at Boulder and in his baritone voice and frank tone urged Americans to legalize marijuana. His thrust: it could help enervate Mexico’s violent drug cartels. “The drug consumer in the U.S. yields billions of dollars, money that goes back to Mexico to bribe police and money that buys guns,” Fox said. “So when you question yourselves about what is going on in Mexico, it depends very much on what happens in this nation.” At the time, many pundits warned that legalization was a non-starter. But on Tuesday, voters in Colorado and Washington state did exactly what Fox called for: they approved landmark amendments to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana.
As supporters in Colorado jumped up and down, shouting “64, 64” after the amendment’s ballot number, the seismic implications of the reforms began to be slowly digested by activists across the globe, especially in drug-war torn Mexico. “It was very emotional,” says Jorge Hernández, president of the Collective for an Integral Drug Policy, which is pushing for legalization in Mexico. “Now we are not like madmen in the desert. This transforms the debate.” That’s because the U.S. referendums signal the first time voters have approved the full legalization of marijuana anywhere on the planet, giving advocates from Mexico to Moscow bona fide cases to cite and follow. Even the famous cannabis coffee shops of Amsterdam only exist through an ambiguous policy of toleration often referred to as decriminalization, something Portugal has pursued as well. A 2009 Mexican law also decriminalized possession of small amounts of cannabis and other drugs, but production and selling has been left in the hands of bloodthirsty traffickers. Reformists in Colorado and Washington State are still far from claiming an all-out victory. Marijuana remains illegal under U.S. federal law, setting up for a confrontation between cannabis growers and the re-elected Obama administration. Furthermore, U.N. treaties oblige all signatories to prohibit the legalization of marijuana as well as cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. Nevertheless, entire countries may soon follow Colorado’s example, forcing an international review of the issue. Uruguayan President José Mujica is pushing to legalize marijuana by the end of the year—legislation there would even make the government the drug’s sole legal seller—and there is strong support for reforms in Argentina and Brazil. “What happened on Tuesday was a game changer. It will have a huge political and symbolic impact,” says drug analyst Alejandro Hope from the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness think tank. “Now, it would be very hard for the U.S. to tell people not to legalize marijuana.” The institute released a report last week saying that the U.S. state amendments could dent Mexican traffickers’ finances as gringo consumers buy more locally produced grass than the Mexican product—which it said accounts for a third of the Mexican drug cartels’ revenues. American smokers currently import between 40 percent to 70 percent of their cannabisfrom Mexico, according to the report. Legalization in just two states, of course, may not have a very dramatic effect. What’s more, Mexican cartels traffic other narcotics, including cocaine, heroin and meth, and commit lucrative crimes from kidnapping to extortion, so even nationwide U.S. marijuana legalization would not destroy the cartels. Still, it could substantially weaken them. Mexican President Felipe Calderón did not immediately comment on the votes in Colorado and Washington. Back in 2010, he had spoken against a similar initiative to legalize marijuana in California. However, after the huge cost of his military offensive against cartels, with about 60,000 drug-related murders since he took office in 2006, he has questioned prohibition in more recent statements—including a particularly frustrated speech last year after narcos massacred 52 innocent people in a Monterrey casino. In September, Calderón joined Latin American presidents from Guatemala to Colombia in demanding a new U.N. debate on drug policy. Calderón leaves office on Dec. 1, passing the torch to President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto, who has already said he wants to prioritize reducing murders above busting drugs. The new amendments in the U.S. will raise further questions about whether Mexico should send its soldiers and police to burn marijuana fields and seize the cartels’ vacuum-packed boxes of weed. “Why are we busting trucks of marijuana in Mexico when they are selling it over the counter in some U.S. states?” former foreign minister Jorge Castañeda asked on Mexican radio on Wednesday. “There is no logic to it. It is schizophrenic.”Source: Time Magazine (US)Author: Ioan Grillo, Mexico CityPublished: November 8, 2012Copyright: 2012 Time Inc.Contact: letters time.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #4 posted by John Tyler on November 08, 2012 at 19:42:57 PT
Vancouver too
Vancouver BC, just across the border from Washington, is interested in doing a legalization campaign, but waited to see how the Washington vote turned out. It now looks like they will get rolling on their campaign. If Washington state can get legal, why can’t Vancouver? The US is not in a position to tell Canada what they can’t do on this issue anymore. 
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Comment #3 posted by kaptinemo on November 08, 2012 at 19:34:36 PT:
The political earthquake has begun
Washington State and Colorado are now the epicenters of a slow-motion political earthquake that could wind up shaking the very foundation of our political and social structures.For decades, the trend has been toward more accumulation of power accruing to government at the expense of the citizen and the States. Rights and liberties once enjoyed by our grandparents are now little more than empty words in the face of an increasingly unaccountable central government that seems more concerned with the rights of non-entities (corporations) than those of flesh-and-blood.The re-legalization laws directly challenge that process, and threaten to reverse it. It is a declaration on the part of the citizens of those States - WHO KNEW DAMN WELL WHAT THEY WERE VOTING FOR - that they were formally reclaiming their right to be sovereign over themselves...and to Hell with what Warshington thinks.The entire (ostensible) philosophy behind drug prohibition was based on a false premise that the government must not only protect us from each other but protect us from ourselves. From whence comes the Nanny State. But it rarely stops with harmless hectoring; from finger-waving 'Nanny State' to machinegun-waving, 'roid-raging, dog-and-kid shooting DrugWarrior took only two generations. Arriving with said DrugWarrior came a kind of right-wing ethos that 'rights' were the refuge of the guilty, and that innocent people didn't need them.Exactly the kind of logic you'd expect of a police state. One that's gotten too big for its' britches, and these new laws are a reflection of that sentiment being expressed on the part of the voters there.The long awaited swing of the social pendulum from far-right authoritarianism to something more sensible has begun. The control freaks have just taken a major back-hand from the people of Washington State and Colorado, and you can bet more States will be joining them, and maybe sooner than you think; with so much potential revenue to be made, nobody will want to be a Johnny-come-lately.But make no mistake: behind all the talk of money is something much deeper and more important. The people have, indeed, spoken, loudly, clearly, in effect making a vote of no confidence in drug prohibition...and government had better listen, this time.Lest it receive the same kind of vote... 
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Comment #2 posted by observer on November 08, 2012 at 14:50:11 PT
''Non-Starter'' is Beltway -talk for What? 
re: "a non-starter"What's "a non-starter" -- Is that beltway-talk for "don't think", or "stop that thought - for it is an heretical thought!". In other words, is "a non-starter" just another thought-stopping cliche? Thought-stopping is important. For cults. Or perhaps "a non-starter" simply means, "shut up" in obfuscation laden Beltway-talk?
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Comment #1 posted by The GCW on November 08, 2012 at 09:20:52 PT
There are so many large implications related to RE-legalizing cannabis and the Mexican drug cartel murder rates have to be one of the most important.And here, where Colorado politicians beg for federal government goons to ignore the will of voters,,,Mexico President Fox is in Boulder, CO telling it like it is.Way to go Gov. Hickenlooper & Colorado Attorney General John Suthers.
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