Weed Wars

Dispatches from the California Marijuana Front

September 29, 2010
California marijuana vote closely watched south of the border

Some of the most anxious observers of California's November vote to legalize marijuana for recreational use are ineligible to vote because they are located south of the border in Mexico.

Prop 19 proponents argue that the most nervous observers are the Mexican drug cartels, whose operations could be undercut by legal marijuana in the Golden State.

But leading political intellectuals in Mexico are also wondering whether the California vote will open the door to seriously considering legalizing marijuana in Mexico.

Tim Johnson, the Mexico City Bureau Chief for McClatchy Newspapers, including The Sacramento Bee, recently wrote that Proposition 19 is a huge topic of interest in the country ravaged by drug violence.

His recent report described Prop 19 as a bellwether in Mexico as to whether legalizing pot may be seen as an answer to the country's deadly scourge - or perhaps a political affront to the United States.

""If they vote 'yes' to approve the full legalization of marijuana, I think it will have a radical impact in Mexico," Jorge Hernandez Tinajero, a political scientist at the National Autonomous University, told Johnson.

In a recent commentary in The Washington Post, former Mexican foreign minister Jorge G. Castañeda and historian and magazine publisher Héctor Aguilar Camín wrote that the California vote represents "almost the whole enchilada" for how Mexico should shape future policy on marijuana.

"We have believed for some time that Mexico should legalize marijuana and perhaps other drugs," they wrote. "But until now, most discussion of this possibility has foundered because our country's drug problem and the U.S. drug problem are so inextricably linked...As a result, the debate over legalization has inevitably gotten hung up over whether Mexico should wait until the United States is willing and able to do the same."

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