Latin America's leaders condemn California's Prop. 19 to legalize marijuana
Californians vote next week on whether to legalize recreational marijuana use. The presidents of Colombia and Mexico on Tuesday called Prop. 19 'confusing' and 'inconsistent.'
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His sentiments echo earlier views expressed by President Felipe Calderón in Mexico, where more than 28,000 lives have been lost to drug-related violence since Mr. Calderón took office and dispatched the military to fight organized crime in December 2006. His military strategy has been lauded by both the Bush and Obama administrations.Skip to next paragraph
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Calderón, who has long placed blame on the US for not doing enough to stem demand for illegal narcotics, called the initiative inconsistent. "They have exerted pressure and demanded for decades that Mexico and other countries control, reduce, and fight drug trafficking, and there is no discernible effort to reduce the consumption of drugs in the United States," he said in a recent interview with the Associated Press.
Time to change strategy?
United States officials have recognized concern raised in other countries over the ballot initiative in California. While some states have approved the medicinal use of marijuana, Prop. 19 would allow adults over 21 to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and would permit people to grow the plant on private property. City and county government would have the power to decide on sales and taxes.
Criticism expressed Tuesday in Colombia contrasts with a parallel movement arguing for liberalization of drug policy in Latin America. A commission last year by three former Latin American presidents – of Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia – argued that prohibition has failed amid sustained drug use and growing violence.
Dogged by violence, Mexico has also begun to debate easing up prohibition. Last year Mexico decriminalized small amounts of drug possession. But it is still illegal to sell or cultivate marijuana.
Pedro Isnardo de La Cruz, a security expert at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, says authorities have condemned Prop. 19 because it undermines the military campaign currently being waged in Mexico – one he says is failing.
“It sends an important message to Mexico that it should modify its strategy,” he says.