MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Taking a lead from the US, Mexico ought to enable states to start legalizing marijuana whereas broader efforts are in limbo, a senior authorities official mentioned, because the nation seeks methods to sort out document gang violence.
Tourism minister Enrique de la Madrid, confronting rising lawlessness in and across the resort cities of Cancun and Los Cabos, mentioned it made no sense for Mexico to take care of prohibition given permissive U.S. insurance policies in states equivalent to California.
“I believe in Mexico we should always transfer in direction of regulating it at state degree,” he mentioned in an interview late on Wednesday, calling it “illogical” to divert funds from preventing kidnapping, rape and homicide to arrest folks utilizing marijuana.
President Enrique Pena Nieto has mentioned Mexico and the US mustn’t pursue diverging insurance policies on marijuana. In 2016, Pena Nieto backed a invoice to permit Mexicans to hold an oz. of the drug, however the measure stalled in Congress.
Turf wars between gangs for management of provide and distribution of medicine together with heroin, cocaine, crystal meth and marijuana helped push murders in Mexico to a document of virtually 29,000 in 2017, in accordance with authorities knowledge.
Drug coverage is likely one of the main points in Mexico’s July 1 presidential election. The front-runner, leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has even floated the thought of exploring an amnesty for legal gangs to curb the violence.
Rising crime final yr shook Baja California Sur and Quintana Roo, the states which can be residence to Los Cabos and Cancun. In January, the federal government agreed plans with native authorities in each states to beef up safety.
De la Madrid mentioned on the time that marijuana ought to be legalized within the two resorts.
Within the first two months of this yr, murders climbed once more nationwide in comparison with the identical interval in 2017. They fell in Baja California Sur, however rose in Quintana Roo.
Regardless of the violence, Mexico final yr drew a document 39 million worldwide guests. De la Madrid noticed numbers rising once more this yr, forecasting they might attain as much as 42 million.
In accordance with de la Madrid, prime resorts had been uncovered to decrease ranges of danger than the nation on the whole and vacationers understood this.
Pressed on incidents like a home-made explosive blast that injured 25 folks on a ferry in Playa del Carmen in March, he mentioned nowhere was solely risk-free, pointing to deadlier occasions in the US, such because the October mass taking pictures in Las Vegas and truck terror assault in New York.
“I’ve learnt that completely different requirements are utilized to Mexico. And we now have to study to reside with that,” he mentioned. “And we now have to be more and more rigorous on safety and transparency.”
Holding marijuana unlawful was to “give away” cash to the gangs, he mentioned. “And with the cash, these males are bribing extra police, shopping for extra weapons and inflicting extra violence.”
His push has added to rising requires change.
On Wednesday, ex-President Vicente Fox mentioned Mexico should contemplate legalizing opium poppies, whereas the Supreme Courtroom made a second ruling in favor of leisure marijuana use after a landmark choice in 2015.
Whereas stressing he was not advocating drug use, de la Madrid mentioned the courtroom ruling, which is for now restricted to the litigants in query, confirmed it was time to behave. “I’m in opposition to a nasty coverage that results in extra violence in Mexico,” he mentioned.
Reporting by Dave Graham, Modifying by Rosalba O’Brien