Mexico’s President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said that he would consider legalizing certain drugs as part of a broader strategy to fight poverty and crime.
Speaking in the state of Zacatecas, Lopez Obrador said that a recent proposal from the country’s defense minister, who backed legalization of opium for medicinal use, was important and that he would not rule out anything.
“It’s important what he proposed,” Lopez Obrador said. “There should be a comprehensive approach to the terrible problem of insecurity and violence.”
Lopez Obrador, who takes office on Dec. 1, said on Sunday that he would also look at paying farmers more for their corn as a way to dissuade them from planting poppy seeds.
Since 2006, Mexico has been mired in a military-led battle against drug gangs, which have now splintered into smaller groups that fight for trafficking routes and territory to sell drugs. Homicides hit a record in 2017, data from statistics body INEGI shows.
The president-elect has held town-hall reviews on violence and discuss potential “amnesty” for non-violent drug traffickers and farmers. Members of his team have previously said Mexico would evaluate creating legal markets for marijuana as well as opium.
A commission comprising of former heads of state and international experts is calling for the “responsible control” of currently illicit drugs through legalization and regulation. But Canada is just weeks away from cannabis legalization and it is unlikely to take similar action on any other currently illegal substance.
The Global Commission on Drug Policy’s latest report, says it addresses the reality that more than 250 million people around the world take risks by consuming currently prohibited drugs.
“Accepting this reality and putting in place an effective regulatory strategy to manage it is neither admitting defeat nor condoning drug use,” the report states. “It is part of a responsible, evidence-based approach that deals with the world as it is in contrast with ideologically driven and ultimately counterproductive attempts to create a ‘drug free world.’ ”
Commissioners include former presidents of Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Portugal and Switzerland; the late Kofi Annan, former secretary-general of the United Nations; and George Shultz, who served as U.S. secretary of state under president Ronald Reagan.
“The truth is that little progress has been made,” Cesar Gaviria, former president of Colombia, said Monday at a news conference in Mexico City. “Countries cannot incur immense sacrifices for the limited results of policies that fail … Many of the states already recognized that the policies they were replicating do not work.”
The report recommends a “cautious, incremental and evidence-based” approach to legal regulation, with each country identifying pathways that are suited to its particular context and restraints.
Priority could be given to substances with the highest prevalence of use in a national context; to plant-based drugs such as cannabis, coca leaves or opium; or other substances that have some form of historic or traditional use, or are part of a cultural heritage, the report says.
Riskier drugs such as injectable heroin “would be subject to far more stringent controls, within a medical prescription model,” than lower-risk drugs such as cannabis.
The report touches on the need to manage the risks of over-commercialization, noting that such a threat has stoked fears of uncontrolled increases in consumption and related health harms.
James E Windsor, Overpasses News Desk
October 8th, 2018