Mexico's Illegal-Reefer Madness
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Mexico's Illegal-Reefer Madness
Posted by CN Staff on May 04, 2009 at 06:15:51 PT
By Isaac Campos
Source: Los Angeles Times
World -- Last month, Mexico's Congress convened a special forum to consider marijuana policy reform as a remedy for that country's current crisis of violence. The forum bucked a century of staunch prohibitionist history in Mexico, a history that has contributed to the continued criminalization of marijuana use throughout North America.From early on, marijuana was portrayed in Mexico as a frightening substance that produced madness in its users.
In 1897, Revista Medica, one of Mexico's leading scientific journals, reported that marijuana produced "pleasant visions and hallucinations," an "expansion of the spirit that leads to exaltation" but also an "impulsive delirium" with often fatal consequences: "It is true that in other regions the delirium that is produced by marijuana is a turbulent one, but in our country it reaches the point of furor, terrible and blind impulse, and leads to murder."Although use of the drug was not widespread at the time, the plant was increasingly seen as a national menace and, in 1920, was banned. Gradually, the idea that marijuana was dangerous seeped into the United States, fostering American notions of "reefer madness" and eventually helping to inspire marijuana prohibition here as well (in 1937).Since then, Mexico has continued to be tough on marijuana, even in the face of softening U.S. attitudes toward the drug. The last time widespread sentiment for marijuana policy reform emerged in the U.S., it was Mexico that leveled some of the harshest criticism against the trend. "We don't accept that marijuana is less important than heroin," Mexican Atty. Gen. Pedro Ojeda Paullada declared in 1974.A few years later, a scandal over use of the herbicide paraquat on Mexican marijuana fields produced a similar response from Ojeda's successor, Oscar Flores Sanchez. Paraquat spraying, which often failed to completely destroy the targeted crops, led to the sale of poison-soaked pot to unknowing consumers in both countries.Public outcry in the U.S. inspired congressional action that threatened to eliminate funding for the program if the paraquat spraying continued. Behind closed doors, Flores went ballistic, warning that if the United States refused to back Mexico's war on marijuana, Mexico might go soft on heroin, the major U.S. priority of that era.Mexico is now being forced to reevaluate these policies. Ironically, decades of being "tough" on drugs has produced a new link between marijuana and violence, but of a different kind. Indeed, the nation's "drug-related" violence today might more accurately be termed "drug-policy-related" violence.The mafias behind the current tsunami of killings -- more than 6,000 last year -- are a product of the extraordinary black-market profits that drug prohibition generates. And because 60% of the profits earned by Mexican traffickers come from marijuana sales, legalization in both Mexico and the U.S. would deliver a potentially debilitating blow to these powerful gangs.Unfortunately, the Mexican public remains overwhelmingly opposed to marijuana legalization, with only 14% in favor, according to a February poll by Parametria, a public opinion research firm based in Mexico City. According to CBS News, by contrast, nearly 40% of Americans say they would favor legalization if the drug could be taxed and proceeds used to fund state budgets. Given those numbers, it is hardly surprising that many Mexican legislators chose not to attend last month's forum.Indeed, full legalization apparently had few supporters at the forum in April. Instead, many delegates backed half-measures, such as the formal decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana for personal use. Such measures, though a significant departure from the past, nevertheless promise to do very little to alleviate Mexico's current crisis of violence.Although decriminalization would free up law enforcement to concentrate on trafficking, this would merely exacerbate the fundamental paradox at the heart of drug policy -- that by raising prices, law enforcement increases the economic incentive to traffic in drugs.Thus, unless decriminalization is accompanied by a successful program of "education" that persuades people to abstain from using a drug that is relatively innocuous in comparison with, say, alcohol or tobacco, it won't do much to stem the violence. Education efforts should instead focus on undermining old prejudices that prevent meaningful reform in Mexico and the United States.Last month's forum at least opened a dialogue among Mexicans. That is certainly a step in the right direction. But if we hope to use legislative reform to reduce Mexico's drug-policy-related violence, Mexico and the United States need to go all the way on marijuana legalization.Isaac Campos is an assistant professor of history at the University of Cincinnati and a visiting fellow at UC San Diego's Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies.Note: In the face of a crisis in drug-related violence, Mexico should reconsider its policy criminalizing marijuana.Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)Author: Isaac CamposPublished: May 4, 2009Copyright: 2009 Los Angeles TimesContact: letters latimes.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives
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Comment #13 posted by josephlacerenza on May 06, 2009 at 15:24:06 PT
Some News from the Huff
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Comment #12 posted by rchandar on May 04, 2009 at 19:24:55 PT:
Don't know. I'd be hesitant to recommend Colombia as an MJ paradise, because every news report claims that it's a dangerous country where kidnappings are rampant. Pretty sure that the legal status of drugs there works best for locals, not tourists. Or, I could be completely wrong and it's a great place. Regardless, I'd say that many, many more people go to other places--Mexico, Jamaica, Trinidad, Bahamas. Colombia? It's interesting, though, because Uribe has been fighting for recriminalization for about ten years now.--rchandar
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Comment #11 posted by Hope on May 04, 2009 at 13:36:41 PT
I agree, Museman...
Perhaps I should have said "an eye opener to a different point of view"... one I hadn't heard before. I don't believe all of anything like this, ever. 
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Comment #10 posted by FoM on May 04, 2009 at 13:29:02 PT
Just a Note About the Global Marijuana March
I was able to get in touch with Ron Bennett and he fixed the problem. I have a few articles from the Global Marijuana March posted now on my link. If I find more articles I will add them to the page.
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Comment #9 posted by Hope on May 04, 2009 at 13:26:25 PT
Lol!I'd been pondering that!
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Comment #8 posted by runruff on May 04, 2009 at 12:05:36 PT
An unintended remark!
"Some religions are accessible only by a tin can attached to a string!"I meant to say "regions"!
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Comment #7 posted by museman on May 04, 2009 at 08:58:36 PT
Don't believe it for a minute. Like the point runruff made about their 'poll.'What precentage of mexican citizens even have a phone, let alone an internet connection?And who funded the paraquat? Thats an easy question. Who manufactured paraquat? I believe you will find that DOW chemical made that, or one of its subsidiaries. If you follow the money a little further, you will no doubt find pockets, money transfers, and checks to and from the various government offices that were directly linked to the white house, and the CIA. (Nixon-Reagan-Bush)This is an outright attempt to cover up the insidious actions our government has made, by selectively re-writing some history - allow a few facts that support the case (I'm sure mr. Sanchez made out quite well) through, and make it out to be the whole truth. It is, and was always about money, and who is 'worthy' to have it, not about drugs. Drugs is just another excuse like the immigration debacle, to oppress the poor, and leach funding from the middle class for the wages of the enforcement dogs who carry out the 'work' of perpetuating the rule of their masters. With the wages taken care of, everything else garnered from their illicit 'business transactions' with the 'cartels' that THEY created- is just profit.There's an old saying, used quite a lot in the music biz; "You can't make a silk purse out of a sows ear." Well that saying applies quite fittingly to our federal government, so I for one will be especially glad when honest, thinking americans, stop trying to do just that.Its not even deserving of a decent burial. Cremation is more like it.LEGALIZE FREEDOM
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on May 04, 2009 at 07:32:56 PT
Had Enough
I don't know. I looked for Copyright info on the link and I didn't see any so I guess it's ok. It's always best to snip the article and post a link. That way I know it's ok.
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Comment #5 posted by Hope on May 04, 2009 at 07:19:56 PT
This article is an eye opener.
I always thought that agents from the US were behind the paraquat debacle.
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Comment #4 posted by runruff on May 04, 2009 at 07:18:35 PT
Oh senior propagandaman! No amigo!
Was this a phone survey? Some religions are accessible only by a tin can attached to a string!Mexico may have an MSM even more mamby-pamby than are own? I am pretty certain every aspect of Mexican life is controlled by the government, much like our own culture any worse. My point is; even if 99% of the Mexican people wanted legalization, The polls would not reflect that!I've been down into Mexico. I love the Mexican people and their culture. Not so much their government. Everywhere I went, herb was treated like something everyday and normal. I do not know who these 86%ters are?
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Comment #3 posted by Had Enough on May 04, 2009 at 07:17:53 PT
Legalize drugs, and do it nowDrug war's failure shows need for dramatic shift in strategyBY MARSHALL FRANK • COMMUNITY COLUMNIST • May 3, 2009The war on drugs has been waged for almost 40 years at a cost surpassing $1 trillion. It hasn’t worked.The drug war has been lost since the day it began, yet we continue to pursue the same stupid game plan, costing billions more every year in taxpayer dollars, not to mention human suffering and wasted lives wallowing unnecessarily in prison cells.There are more illicit drugs flowing in and out of the streets of America than ever before, despite 1.8 million arrests a year for drug violations, 2.3 million inmates in our jails and prisons and multimillions of tons of drugs that have been confiscated by police.I was a cop working the trenches in Miami starting in 1960. In my first 10 years, I made more than 3,000 arrests. Yet I never made a drug bust. Why? Never found drugs. Drugs were not a serious problem. Fighting drugs was not the focus of law enforcement.Then came Richard Nixon’s ill-fated Controlled Substances Act of 1970, which sunk law enforcement teeth into the illicit drug trade by passing tougher sentencing laws and initiating the Drug Enforcement Agency. It had the same effect as passing the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, outlawing alcohol.The black market dug in, violence exploded, prisons were filled and bootleggers thrived as the demand for alcohol prevailed. The new laws created crime. Politicians repealed the amendment in 1933. They should do the same with the insidious drug war and give it up.Drugs are here to stay, laws or no laws. And the ripple effect of violent crime will continue to drain taxpayers.The drug war is not just about the Mexican border, with over 6,300 murders in the last two years; it is an international crisis, affecting billions of lives.Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron says the drug war costs the American taxpayer approximately $44 billion a year. That’s the measurable costs. It doesn’t factor in the billions more in welfare outlay, nor does it measure the multibillions in emergency health care for crime victims.According to Miron and other criminal justice professionals, the turnaround from tax burden to tax benefit, if drugs were legalized and controlled, would be upwards of $77 billion a year.Americans are apathetic to this scourge on society. While the war on drugs cost Americans as much as the war in Iraq, not one mention of it surfaced during the two years of presidential campaigns and debates.When a football coach keeps sending in a play that loses yardage, there has to be a change. We don’t change. Instead, we continue to imprison a half million nonviolent drug offenders every year.Legalize, and the black market will disappear, the culture of drugs will disappear with it, the rate of crime will take a huge dive, street gangs will lose their lifeblood sources of income, Americans will be safer and drug users can be provided meaningful treatment with funds that are diverted from wasted law enforcement efforts.My stepfather was a Miami Beach bookie. A criminal. In 1956, I caught him counting huge stacks of cash in the bedroom. “What’s that for, Bernie?” I asked. “Election year,” he said. “Gotta send this to Tallahassee. Gotta make sure they keep gambling illegal. We all do this.”Something to think about.Frank is an author and retired Miami police detective who lives in Melbourne.************ are more than just a group. We are registered voters willing to sign a petition to show our support for medical marijuana. We are a political committee registered with the state of Florida to restore patients' rights to receive safe, affordable and effective medication. We are collecting signatures to amend the constitution.************FoM…I’m not sure if this needs snipped or not…I put the whole thing in because I thought it is a good piece and didn’t want to leave any of it out.
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on May 04, 2009 at 06:35:38 PT
World News From The Christian Science Monitor
Colombia's President Wants To Ban The Personal Use of Cocaine, Marijuana, and Ecstasy***Uribe's sixth attempt may succeed. Congress is now debating a constitutional amendment that would prohibit personal use and possession of small amounts of 'recreational' drugs.By Sibylla Brodzinsky, Correspondent of The Christian Science MonitorMay 3, 2009Bogotá, Colombia - As a regular marijuana user, Alicia Fajardo freely exercises her right to light up a joint whenever she pleases. But if a new push from Colombia's conservative President Álvaro Uribe succeeds, her habit would become illegal.URL:
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Comment #1 posted by George Servantes on May 04, 2009 at 06:33:50 PT
I didn't know mexicans are so against marijuana
Wow, only 12% support legalization. I didn't know Mexicans are so against marijuana, when you think that our government outlawed hemp using racial fears and hate against Mexicans and African-Americans. It's so ironic.
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