Legalization-Controversial Weapon in Mexico drug war

mexican-drug-cartel-territories-and-routes-mapA growing chorus of leaders is calling to legalize the drug markets as the drug cartels of Mexico are waging a bloody war on the multi-billion dollar narcotics business.

The Global Commission on Drug Policy, a high-powered conference, called in June for governments to get into ‘legal regulation’ of illicit drugs, a move they said could weaken cartels. To undermine the power of organized crime and safeguard the health and safety of citizens, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, former EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and former presidents of Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil were among those who called for legal, government-regulated drugs sales.

According to the libertarian Cato Institution think tank, it is argued by advocates that drug cartels would be destroyed by a legal market of drugs and this would eliminate ‘black market premium’ – the price hike on illegal goods – which accounts for up to 90 percent of profits made by the cartels. Although legalization is supported by two former Mexican presidents, Vicente Fox and Ernesto Zedillo, the present leader of Mexico, Felipe Calderon, has rejected calls for reforms in the past. He may, however, change his tune as Mexico reels from more than 45,000 deaths in five years, in a war driven by US drug use.

In September, Calderon surprised Mexicans by indicating that they are ‘morally obliged’ to look at ‘all possible options’ if drug-consuming nations won’t reduce demand – in this case, the US. US president Barack Obama has made his position clear: ‘I am not in favour of legalization.’

According to the Center for Disease Control, the United States has the highest rate of illicit drug use in the world, 8.7 per cent of the population in 2009 and a Gallup poll published in October showed half of Americans in favor of marijuana legalization.

‘Most politicians think that it’s terribly unpopular and you get into all sorts of trouble with very conservative and very strident groups that don’t like this,’ former Mexican foreign minister Jorge Castaneda, a proponent of legalization, told DPA.

Nevertheless, decriminalization of drug use is gaining momentum and a slew of countries have enacted new rules designed to relieve law enforcement from the burden of arresting small offenders, and to remove the fear of prosecution that may keep drug users from seeking help.