California's Prop 19 Could End Mexico's Drug War
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California's Prop 19 Could End Mexico's Drug War
Posted by CN Staff on September 05, 2010 at 17:12:00 PT
By Héctor Aguilar Camín and Jorge G. Castañeda
Source: Washington Post 
Mexico City -- On Nov. 2, Californians will vote on Proposition 19, deciding whether to legalize the production, sale and consumption of marijuana. If the initiative passes, it won't just be momentous for California; it may, at long last, offer Mexico the promise of an exit from our costly war on drugs.The costs of that war have long since reached intolerable levels: more than 28,000 of our fellow citizens dead since late 2006; expenditures well above $10 billion; terrible damage to Mexico's image abroad; human rights violations by government security forces; and ever more crime. In a recent poll by the Mexico City daily Reforma, 67 percent of Mexicans said these costs are unacceptable, while 59 percent said the drug cartels are winning the war.
We have believed for some time that Mexico should legalize marijuana and perhaps other drugs. But until now, most discussion of this possibility has foundered because our country's drug problem and the U.S. drug problem are so inextricably linked: What our country produces, Americans consume. As a result, the debate over legalization has inevitably gotten hung up over whether Mexico should wait until the United States is willing and able to do the same.Proposition 19 changes this calculation. For Mexico, California is almost the whole enchilada: Our overall trade with the largest state of the union is huge, an immense number of Californians are of Mexican origin, and an enormous proportion of American visitors to Mexico come from California. Passage of Prop 19 would therefore flip the terms of the debate about drug policy: If California legalizes marijuana, will it be viable for our country to continue hunting down drug lords in Tijuana? Will Wild West-style shootouts to stop Mexican cannabis from crossing the border make any sense when, just over that border, the local 7-Eleven sells pot?The prospect of California legalizing marijuana coincides with an increasingly animated debate about legalization in Mexico. This summer, our magazine, Nexos, asked the six leading presidential candidates whether, if California legalizes marijuana, Mexico should follow suit. Four of them said it should, albeit with qualifications. And last month, at a public forum presided over by President Felipe Calderón, one of us asked whether the time had come for such discussion to be taken seriously. Calderón's reply was startlingly open-minded and encouraging: "It's a fundamental debate," he said. ". . . You have to analyze carefully the pros and cons and the key arguments on both sides." The remarks attracted so much attention that, later in the day, Calderón backtracked, insisting that he was vehemently opposed to any form of legalization. Still, his comments helped stimulate the national conversation.A growing number of distinguished Mexicans from all walks of life have recently come out in favor of some form of drug legalization. Former presidents Ernesto Zedillo and Vicente Fox, novelists Carlos Fuentes and Angeles Mastretta, Nobel Prize-winning chemist Mario Molina, and movie star Gael García Bernal have all expressed support for this idea, and polls show that ordinary Mexicans are increasingly willing to contemplate the notion.Indeed, as we have crisscrossed Mexico over the past six months on a book tour, visiting more than two dozen state capitals, holding town hall meetings with students, businesspeople, school teachers, local politicians and journalists, we have witnessed a striking shift in views on the matter. This is no longer your mother's Mexico -- conservative, Catholic, introverted. Whenever we asked whether drugs should be legalized, the response was almost always overwhelmingly in favor of decriminalizing at least marijuana.The debate here is not framed in terms of personal drug use but rather whether legalization would do anything to abate Mexico's nightmarish violence and crime. There are reasons to think that it would: The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy has said that up to 60 percent of Mexican drug cartels' profits come from marijuana. While some say the real figure is lower, pot is without question a crucial part of their business. Legalization would make a significant chunk of that business vanish. As their immense profits shrank, the drug kingpins would be deprived of the almost unlimited money they now use to fund recruitment, arms purchases and bribes.In addition, legalizing marijuana would free up both human and financial resources for Mexico to push back against the scourges that are often, if not always correctly, attributed to drug traffickers and that constitute Mexicans' real bane: kidnapping, extortion, vehicle theft, home assaults, highway robbery and gunfights between gangs that leave far too many innocent bystanders dead and wounded. Before Mexico's current war on drugs started, in late 2006, the country's crime rate was low and dropping. Freed from the demands of the war on drugs, Mexico could return its energies to again reducing violent crime.Today, almost anyone caught carrying any drug in Mexico is subject to arrest, prosecution and jail. Would changing that increase consumption in Mexico? Perhaps for a while. Then again, given the extremely low levels of drug use in our country, the threat of drug abuse seems a less-than-pressing problem: According to a national survey in 2008, only 6 percent of Mexicans have ever tried a drug, compared with 47 percent of Americans, as shown by a different survey that year.Still, real questions remain. Should our country legalize all drugs, or just marijuana? Can we legalize by ourselves, or does such a move make sense only if conducted hand in hand with the United States? Theoretically, the arguments in favor of marijuana legalization apply to virtually all drugs. We believe that the benefits would also apply to powder cocaine (not produced in Mexico, but shipped through our country en route from Latin America to the United States), heroin (produced in Mexico from poppies grown in the mountains of Sinaloa, Chihuahua and Durango) and methamphetamines (made locally with pseudoephedrine imported from China).This is the real world, though, so we must think in terms of incremental change. It strikes us as easier and wiser to proceed step by step toward broad legalization, starting with marijuana, moving on to heroin (a minor trade in Mexico, and a manageable one stateside) and dealing only later, when Washington and others are ready, with cocaine and synthetic drugs.For now we'll take California's ballot measure. If our neighbors to the north pass Proposition 19, our government will have two new options: to proceed unilaterally with legalization -- with California but without Washington -- or to hold off, while exploiting California's move to more actively lobby the U.S. government for wider changes in drug policy. Either way, the initiative's passage will enhance Calderón's moral authority in pressing President Obama.Our president will be able to say to yours: "We have paid an enormous price for a war that a majority of the citizens of your most populous and trend-setting state reject. Why don't we work together, producer and consumer nations alike, to draw a road map leading us away from the equivalent of Prohibition, before we all regret our short-sightedness?"Héctor Aguilar Camín is a historian, a novelist and the publisher and editor of the Mexican magazine Nexos. Jorge G. Castañeda was Mexico's foreign minister from 2000 to 2003 and teaches at New York University.Newshawk: Sam AdamsSource: Washington Post (DC)Author: Héctor Aguilar Camín and Jorge G. CastañedaPublished: Sunday, September 5, 2010 Copyright: 2010 Washington Post Contact: letters URL: CannabisNews -- Cannabis Archives
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Comment #28 posted by FoM on September 10, 2010 at 12:12:03 PT
Storm Crow
Thank you. I should be fine in a day or two. I didn't realize how we were running on adrenaline. When you have to react you can but when you don't need to react you get really tired.
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Comment #27 posted by Storm Crow on September 10, 2010 at 10:11:01 PT
Fom, hon,
Take all the time you need to rest up, and not one minute less! We all love you! Condolences and peace to you and your your family! 
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Comment #26 posted by FoM on September 10, 2010 at 05:42:32 PT
Thank you. What a week it's been. Last night BGreen and Mrs. BGreen called. What a wonderful conversation we had and then BGreen said Mrs. BGreen was talking to you at the same time I was talking to him. Today all I feel is exhaustion. It's another beautiful day and all I want to do is to spend time doing absolutely nothing.
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Comment #25 posted by Hope on September 09, 2010 at 22:58:22 PT
I'm sorry when people don't get to live a long, healthy life.Life is short even for people that live a long, long time.But I'm glad that so much was precious and good for her and the people that loved her, during her, and their ordeal, and in her passing.I know she was your namesake, Martha, and that makes it that much more poignant for you, I'm sure.I'm sorry that you've all lost her, but I'm glad there was sweetness and blessing, too, to make the sorrow and loss a little bit easier to bear.
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Comment #24 posted by FoM on September 09, 2010 at 13:33:57 PT
Paint with light
Thank you. The hardest part was watching her sons. They are about 25 and are now parentless. Marty lived a rebellious life but had a good heart. She was much like the Kid Rock song I posted that she loved. 
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Comment #23 posted by Paint with light on September 09, 2010 at 13:25:34 PT
My condolences to you and your family.I know Marty will continue to live on in the hearts and memories of those she touched.You know the pain of outliving a child so I am sure this was especially difficult for you.Strength to you and your sister.
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Comment #22 posted by FoM on September 09, 2010 at 12:26:39 PT
Thank you. This last week has been a journey that will always stay in my heart. Even though Marty wasn't really conscious a couple of days ago I told her that I loved her. Her eyes looked into mine and as clear as anyone's mind could be she said I love you too. That was it. That was all. That's all that was needed. I am not going up today because this time is for her Mom, Marty's sons and her brothers and sisters. 
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Comment #21 posted by greenmed on September 09, 2010 at 12:18:54 PT
I am sorry for your loss. I am sorry for the rest of Marty's family's and friends' loss.May she be at rest with the angels.
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Comment #20 posted by FoM on September 09, 2010 at 10:12:58 PT
R.I.P. My Sweet Lady
My niece Marty passed away a few minutes ago. Yesterday while we were sitting at her bedside her oldest son downloaded this song. It was Marty's favorite song and it does reflect her life. Thank you all for the support and prayers.Only God Knows Why By Kid Rock
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Comment #19 posted by FoM on September 08, 2010 at 05:05:15 PT
Thank you so much. The prayers are working. Marty is not in pain now so that makes this much easier. There have been so many people coming to visit her that we take turns sitting with her. That's a good thing.
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Comment #18 posted by runruff on September 08, 2010 at 03:25:32 PT
I am beginning to think that .....
...Shawnhag is a tagger, a hit and run coward. He new we would shread his [her] little ploy into confetti and then celebrate their departure with it!Shawnhag, if you were to stand beside your convictions it would give them more credibility but to drop this website here, like leaving a burning bag of dog dung on our step and running away, does not give you our your intervention much credibility?If you are some smart ass cop I would like to say; There are all kinds of interventions and all kinds of withdrawals. You might want to see how you will need to cope with salary and perc withdrawals, rescinding the Asset Forfeiture laws, job and budget cuts, as this idiotic war on people and our rights come back to balance with our constitution and yes, mother nature! As this happens incrementally, you and your ilk will melt away like a child's popsicle at a 4Th of July pick-nick.
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Comment #17 posted by Hope on September 07, 2010 at 20:22:38 PT
Death is hard and especially of someone so relatively young. But it's amazing how much more time she got than expected, and the peace and good things that are happening in the midst of this all for her and all of her family. There are blessings to be had even in the midst of what seems like nothing but loss.
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Comment #16 posted by BGreen on September 07, 2010 at 19:57:11 PT
Mrs. Green and I have been praying for your niece as well as you and your family. I've heard it said so often that many times good comes about from the bad but dealing with sickness and loss is almost more than I can handle. It's so overwhelmingly sad for me and sadness really sucks.The Reverend Bud Green
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Comment #15 posted by FoM on September 07, 2010 at 19:09:25 PT
One More Thing
The one time while many people were in my niece's room her one son told us all that when his Mother smoked a little Cannabis she felt so much better then all the drugs they had given her for pain. We have a need to keep moving forward for all the ones we love who need or will need the comfort of Cannabis. 
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Comment #14 posted by FoM on September 07, 2010 at 19:05:01 PT
Thank You All
We are home again for another day. This journey we have been on has been the most amazing experience for me in a long time. Family from different walks of life have put aside difference and worked together for the well being of my niece. If she makes it thru the night I will be gone again tomorrow. Everyone has called off work and is staying. We have had as many as 8 people in one little room sitting with her and just doing the right thing for each other. God is good. Thank you for keeping CNews going while I am gone. 
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Comment #13 posted by BGreen on September 07, 2010 at 16:49:41 PT
The only thing worse than a prohibitionist
is a prohibitionist who used to be a drug addict. Power becomes their new addiction and it is an ugly, ugly thing these "treatment whores" become. Instead of just hurting themselves they turn into evil creatures who perpetrate pain upon countless others.Yes, shawnhag, it is a war and you and your ilk are the decaying corpses stinking up the air we breathe. You and the other "treatment whores" make sexual prostitutes look like angelic choir girls. At least they're honest about being whores for money.Now, merrily troll, troll, troll your boat gently the heck out of here.The Reverend Bud Green
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Comment #12 posted by Hope on September 07, 2010 at 14:42:21 PT
Not a good time for me to be writing comments, maybe. I meant faculties... and not facilities.
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Comment #11 posted by Hope on September 07, 2010 at 11:46:31 PT
shawnhag will actually answer that and try to explain to us why they feel the way they do about it all.One thing, I think they think is that a person that has tried cannabis has lost all their mental facilities... therefore... they must "intervene" and "save" the person that enjoys cannabis from themselves... not by reasoning with them... but by brainwashing them. They will force that person so "stupid" as to try cannabis or like it, to give up all rights to choices and decisions about their own life.Preventionists have a powerful "savior" complex that is really quite dangerous....
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Comment #10 posted by FoM on September 07, 2010 at 11:02:50 PT
I have tried very hard in the past to understand Intervention but I come to a dead end. We all are free spirits and only an individual can make a decision over his or her drug or alcohol use. If you intervene they will become angry and I can't see how making a person angry can help them.
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Comment #9 posted by Hope on September 07, 2010 at 09:46:18 PT
:0)It was late... I thought someone else might "Git em!"Interesting that they titled their comment "war".
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Comment #8 posted by runruff on September 07, 2010 at 09:08:12 PT
Howdy,That was was an interesting intro for yourself.Could you honor us with a little more personal opinion or dialogue?We like to be friendly around here. 
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Comment #7 posted by Canis420 on September 06, 2010 at 22:11:25 PT:
Git em!
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Comment #6 posted by Hope on September 06, 2010 at 20:51:39 PT
shawnhag is a prohibitionist
Preventionist is what prohibitionists like to call themselves.That "article" shawnhag posted isn't an article at all. It's a website for a forced rehab clinic.
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on September 06, 2010 at 19:42:26 PT
Welcome to CNews. I personally have only found that people that hit a point with a serious drug addiction or alcohol abuse and seek help of their own free will appreciate help. I figure most people come to that point if they bottom out somewhere in their own life. Unfortunately some people die before they seek help. 
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Comment #4 posted by shawnhag on September 06, 2010 at 19:17:30 PT:
this ia a very informative article that should certainty be elaborated on.
National Interventions
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Comment #3 posted by RevRayGreen on September 06, 2010 at 03:52:37 PT
Show #3,the'Black Tuna' interview 9/4/10
MUTE first :21 seconds then the first 17:55 minutes interview (feedback thru)with with Robert Platshorn (who did 30 years in prison for marijuana smuggling charges in Florida back in the late 1970's), feedback thru phone and main mic issues and all, it was still a great interview.From 17:55 Deacon and Saint Michael help bring show #3 magic to Green Central Station sound is golden.
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Comment #2 posted by Paint with light on September 05, 2010 at 18:45:40 PT
news from narco news
I went to see what Narco News had to say about this story and found a link to a story from the last week or so. is about the statement by the former drug czars.Al refers to them as the six zeros.Al Giordano is another of my heroes.In one of his comments he addresses the driving impairment issue much better than I have seen by NORML, so far.Legal like Mexico wants it.
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Comment #1 posted by Sam Adams on September 05, 2010 at 17:20:59 PT
great article
the don't even mention the economic benefit - there'd be a slew of new Mexican companies like Corona beer. I wonder how big Corona is in Mexico? I'm guessing it's one of their biggest companies. These guys are both brave and wise
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