Mexico’s courts ended cannabis prohibition, and the government is drafting up legislation in order to regulate recreational and medical cannabis. The courts also ended prohibition on recreational cocaine. Marijuana and cocaine are the two biggest drugs in Mexico and of those passing through Mexico. Both are now legal, pending additional review by tribunals and the legislature. The government promises to completely end the war on drugs, and redeploy resources on other things such as public health.
The failed war on cocaine has cost many Mexicans their lives. The cartel violence killed not only policemen, but politicians since the Mexican military launched a military offensive on drug cartels in 2006 to eliminate exports of marijuana and cocaine to the United States. Mexico’s government now recognizes that the human cost is too great. Additionally, the war on drugs was effectively a war against the general population.
2006 Declaration of War on Cartels
Mexico’s military launched an offensive on the cartels due to the changing way cocaine entered the nation. The US government under Clinton and Bush escalated the war on drugs in Colombia. Military forces killed the people growing drugs, at a huge cost to Colombian society. This resulted in wasted lives and money as resistant varieties of coca were found and developed. The pesticides deployed did not kill the resistant varieties. The brutal crackdown only temporarily reduced coca cultivation and cocaine production. However, Colombia’s cocaine production ended up doubling. Colombia now exports more than ever.
The war on drugs is always a war against the poor. The war on drugs domestically in the US is a war against people of color, and considering the devastation it has brought to Mexico, Colombia, and other countries in the global South, it is a war against people of color globally. This war on drugs is also a war on LGBT people. The United States, with 5 percent of the world’s population, leads the world with 25 percent of the world’s prison population. A large part of it is due to the war on drugs, and as Latin American illustrates the United States has imposed this war on the world.
Progressive Governments Take Stance Against War on Drugs
With more progressive governments in Latin America, Canada, the US, and Europe currently review and eliminate these policies as people are well aware the war on drugs deliberately targets the marginalised. The damage from the war on drugs destroys entire societies. In 2018 Mexico had record deaths from cartel related violence. As Mexican society at all levels pays the price of the war on drugs, finally the government realized the need for reform and for ending the useless war. In 2017 Mexico signed a bill legalizing medical marijuana. This bill did not do much, and was extremely limited.
Human Right to Consume Drugs
Activists continued the fight against the war on drugs. Litigation proceeded to Mexico’s highest court, which ruled marijuana prohibition unconstitutional. The courts ruled that such laws hindered a person’s development by taking away the right for them to decide what recreational activities to partake it, and how to spend the time. The court added and said certain substances such as cocaine may be regulated but that there was no need to regulate marijuana. This court ruling was a major step for human rights worldwide. First and foremost only the individual has the right to determine what he or she can consume. Only if the person has problematic behaviours should the state intervene.
Many believe that this will lead to more cocaine or marijuana usage in Mexico. All over the world the war on drugs merely corrupts governments and societies without reducing usage. Socio-emotional problems make people vulnerable to substance abuse, not the substances themselves. Most users are not addicts, and the oppressive governments used the image of a homeless junky to disparage those who get high.
Recreational drug users of cocaine and cannabis (and actual addicts) come from all walks of life and races. Portugal decriminalised all drugs and has the lowest overdose rate in Europe. Government authorities only intervene if usage becomes problematic. The authorities and society dealt with the socioeconomic problems causing the late 70s and 80s epidemics in Portugal. This provides a roadmap not only for Mexico, but for the rest of the world.
Economic Reasons to Legalize Drugs
The importance of legalization of cannabis as medication isn’t just for human rights purposes. Cannabis has a number of medical purposes, and with legalisation Mexico can now do medical cannabis research. Already conferences educate Mexican healthcare professionals on the uses of cannabis. This helps further develop the economy and taxes paid on both recreational and medical cannabis funds public needs.
Mexico doesn’t just export cocaine. It also grows coca. Now that recreational use between two people is legal, Mexico can study medical and industrial uses of the coca leaf. Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia paved the path by creating legal markets for coca and coca products. Farmers have licenses from their perspective governments to grow coca, and the leaves are used to make teas, and other drinks. Coca teas are used to provide energy and for medical purposes. The tea and leaves alleviate pain and the symptoms of many diseases such as the flu.
Various governments research medical uses of coca, and doctors use prescription cocaine for traumatic injuries and surgery. Andean people traditionally chew coca in order to provide energy while working all day. Coca related businesses make edibles from coca leaves and their extracts. These uses provide economic development and, as they are under government regulation, provide tax revenues to the government while also improving healthcare. Mexico has excellent blueprints on how to move forward from a number of countries, while of course finding its own path in ending the war on drugs and making Mexico a society for all people.