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Mexico divided on California cannabis vote

Posted on October 24th, 2010 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , .

MexicoCalifornia's referendum on legalizing cannabis is dividing Mexico's political establishment, The Guardian reports Oct. 24. President Felipe Calderón is leading critics of Proposition 19, who see it as a dangerous experiment that would undermine efforts against the cartels. He has repeatedly accused the US of hypocrisy in pressuring Latin America to confront the cartels, while doing little to rein in stateside consumption. The Guardian fails to note that Calderón himself signed a national decriminalization bill into law last year.

Some expressed fears that California's example will boost consumption in Mexico. "It would be the worst thing. It might cut the cartels' income a bit but we'd see more addicts, and trust me we've already got enough," Gen. Carlos Villa (identified as "a police chief in Torreón," despite the fact that "general" is not a rank in the Mexican police forces) told The Guardian (which maddeninlgy failed to point out the illogic of his comment, given that cannabis is not addictive).

The Guardian reports that "[c]annabis accounts for an estimated half of cartels' income but some studies suggest legalisation in California, which produces its own weed, would barely dent profits and that narcos could in any case expand other operations." It fails to note that those very studies have also questioned the claim that cannabis accounts for half of cartel profits—but have nonetheless found that legalization would hurt cartel profits, at least within California.

The Guardian also notes that "a small but growing number of dissenting voices in Mexico, including two former presidents" (that would be Vicente Fox and Ernesto Zedillo) "have endorsed legalisation as a way to hit the cartels, reduce corruption and stamp down drug-related violence which has claimed almost 30,000 lives in four years."

Former foreign minister Jorge Castañeda is quoted saying: "It is going to be impossible to ask Mexican society to put up with the number of lives at risk and the violence for a fight that Americans, or at least Californians, would have said they don't want to fight any more."

Finally, The Guardian fails to note widespread accusations in Mexico that the Calderón government is collaborating with the Sinaloa Cartel—suggesting less idealistic reasons why the president may oppose Prop 19.

 

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