From Mexico to Moscow, the World Turns On to U.S. Marijuana Legalization

The landmark passage of amendments in Colorado and Washington State legalizing marijuana is a turning point in the global conversation on drugs

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Alexandre Meneghini / AP

Soldiers uproot marijuana plants to be burned at a plantation found during a reconnaissance mission near the town of Lombardia in Michoacan state, Mexico, Oct. 25, 2012.

In April 2011, former Mexican President Vicente Fox sat before an audience at the University of Colorado at Boulder and in his baritone voice and frank tone urged Americans to legalize marijuana. His thrust: it could help enervate Mexico’s violent drug cartels. “The drug consumer in the U.S. yields billions of dollars, money that goes back to Mexico to bribe police and money that buys guns,” Fox said. “So when you question yourselves about what is going on in Mexico, it depends very much on what happens in this nation.”

At the time, many pundits warned that legalization was a nonstarter. But on Tuesday, voters in Colorado and Washington state did exactly what Fox called for: they approved landmark amendments to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana.

As supporters in Colorado jumped up and down, shouting “64, 64” after the amendment’s ballot number, the seismic implications of the reforms began to be slowly digested by activists across the globe, especially in drug-war-torn Mexico. “It was very emotional,” says Jorge Hernández, president of the Collective for an Integral Drug Policy, which is pushing for legalization in Mexico. “Now we are not like madmen in the desert. This transforms the debate.” That’s because the U.S. referendums signal the first time voters have approved the full legalization of marijuana anywhere on the planet, giving advocates from Mexico to Moscow bona fide cases to cite and follow. Even the famous cannabis coffee shops of Amsterdam exist only through an ambiguous policy of toleration often referred to as decriminalization, something Portugal has pursued as well. A 2009 Mexican law also decriminalized possession of small amounts of cannabis and other drugs, but production and selling has been left in the hands of bloodthirsty traffickers.

(MORE: Recreational Marijuana: Will Washington State Pioneer Legalizing Weed?)

Reformists in Colorado and Washington State are still far from claiming an all-out victory. Marijuana remains illegal under U.S. federal law, setting up a confrontation between cannabis growers and the re-elected Obama Administration. Furthermore, U.N. treaties oblige all signatories to prohibit the legalization of marijuana as well as cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.

Nevertheless, entire countries may soon follow Colorado’s example, forcing an international review of the issue. Uruguayan President José Mujica is pushing to legalize marijuana by the end of the year — legislation there would even make the government the drug’s sole legal seller — and there is strong support for reforms in Argentina and Brazil. “What happened on Tuesday was a game changer. It will have a huge political and symbolic impact,” says drug analyst Alejandro Hope from the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness think tank. “Now it would be very hard for the U.S. to tell people not to legalize marijuana.”

The institute released a report last week saying that the U.S. state amendments could dent Mexican traffickers’ finances as gringo consumers buy more locally produced grass than the Mexican product, which it said accounts for a third of the Mexican drug cartels’ revenue. American smokers currently import from 40% to 70% of their cannabis from Mexico, according to the report. Legalization in just two states, of course, may not have a very dramatic effect. What’s more, Mexican cartels traffic other narcotics, including cocaine, heroin and meth, and commit lucrative crimes from kidnapping to extortion, so even nationwide U.S. marijuana legalization would not destroy the cartels. Still, it could substantially weaken them.

(MORE: How Latin America May Lead the World in Decriminalizing Drug Use)

Mexican President Felipe Calderón did not immediately comment on the votes in Colorado and Washington. Back in 2010, he had spoken against a similar initiative to legalize marijuana in California. However, after the huge cost of his military offensive against cartels, with about 60,000 drug-related murders since he took office in 2006, he has questioned prohibition in more recent statements — including a particularly frustrated speech last year after narcos massacred 52 innocent people in a Monterrey casino. In September, Calderón joined Latin American Presidents from Guatemala to Colombia in demanding a new U.N. debate on drug policy.

Calderón leaves office on Dec. 1, passing the torch to President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto, who has already said he wants to prioritize reducing murders above busting drugs. The new amendments in the U.S. will raise further questions about whether Mexico should send its soldiers and police to burn marijuana fields and seize the cartels’ vacuum-packed boxes of weed. “Why are we busting trucks of marijuana in Mexico when they are selling it over the counter in some U.S. states?” former Foreign Minister Jorge Castañeda asked on Mexican radio on Wednesday. “There is no logic to it. It is schizophrenic.”

LIST: 10 Reasons to Revisit Marijuana Policy Now

136 comments
alvarez.t3
alvarez.t3

Whoever thought that marijuana would one day expose a corrupt Pharmaceutical vested White House monopoly on medicine . Prescription medicine is used and abused , the consequence is usually considered overdose or suicidal and yet the doctors continue making profits on all these very deadly but profitable prescriptions ask Michael Jackson or

JoelFagan
JoelFagan

Actually chris your wrong the u.s. Government has a patent on cannabis for its medicinal use but the u.s. Government is stupid you can not patent a plant check that out its called the library of congress. Actually in a 2003 study by government scientists they found out cannabis cured cancer in rats next step humans, thats nationalcancerinstitute.gov, 200 millionaire's serving in congress vs. 200 million americans breakin there backs workin slave labor hmmm whos lazy here and uneducated do your research before you open your mouth.

ChrisNichols
ChrisNichols

As I sit and read through these comments; I realize why cannabis is being held in the Class 1 scheduling like it is. The reason is simple people are uneducated on the matter and will never become educated on the matter; the American society like many others are inherently lazy.The Federal government says cannabis is a schedule 1 drug;meaning not medicinal value of any kind, as 1 of the criteria for holding the schedule1. Yet if a common person does some research and comes across US Patent6,630,507 Cannabinoids as Antioxidants and Neuroprotectants issued toU.S.Health and Human Services that was issued on October 7, 2003 and has an estimated Expiration Date: February 2, 2021.Then that same person has to ask themselves; how can cannabis be illegal because of non-medicinal, but the government holds a patent on the medicinal value?Just a little unlawful or just a little hypocritical which do you think?

This one topic alone shows exactly why cannabis is in schedule 1; it is called profits.

ChrisNichols
ChrisNichols

" U.N. treaties oblige all signatories to prohibit the legalization of marijuana as well as cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine."- and here is the tricky part; how does a politician disavow a treaty that his or her country vowed and pushed for?? How does a politician say; oops we were wrong and save face??  This next to financial loss for several contributors are major issues.

JoseGonzales
JoseGonzales

It's time for the federal government to apologize to the American people for all the money they wasted and the lives they destroyed.

Lowtek
Lowtek

Oh I better not forget the other part of that compelling argument, it was also testified that it made 'black men rape white women'

brimcp
brimcp

Please remember the only reason marijuana is illegal in the first place is because Hearst didn't want competition from hemp cutting into his timber profits ..... the by-product of pulp which was used for making the paper on which his newspaper was printed.  He personally hired the guy that went around the country showing the movie "Reefer Madness," also produced by Hearst cronies, to scare the crap out of local PTAs and small towns all over the country.  It was purely a business decision and had absolutely NOTHING to do with peoples' health or well being.  Politicians were not, true to form to this day, willing to stand up to one of their biggest financial supporters while he was manipulating the ignorant masses.

beobeebement
beobeebement

Let the people be who they want and to do to their own bodies what they want who has the right to tell anyone what to do to themselves,get a life and let them live theirs as they wish!

jrcsamad
jrcsamad

The absolute truth is that marijuana consumption "fatigues" the nervous system..just as alcohol consumption does..both, in a strong way....leading to an inhibition of expressing our potential for intelligence, creativity and health.  But, if alcohol consumption is legal, then it's inconsistent to criminalize the consumption and therefore the sale of marijuana.  We should research the long term effects of marijuana consumption and educate the public to the dangers of its use...the medical uses notwithstanding.

MarkSlaugh
MarkSlaugh

Internationally, Colorado and Washington have taken the first step in ending the global war on marijuana. Estou feliz que o Brasil quer regular a machonha melhor. As a Brazilian American heavily involved in the movement in Colorado, this is a very enlightening and promising step toward making the world, South America particularly, a better place.If anyone wants to know more about the inside of Colorado's marijuana movement, please contact us. We can help investors, media, and governments understand this issue better and implement real solutions.  www.complywithme.com

BradForrester
BradForrester

Yesterday Colorado, next week Russia. I like the sound of that!!!

BjLincoln
BjLincoln

No one ever died from a pot over dose. People seldom if ever start a fight while smoking pot. Compared to some of the perscription drugs I currently take, pot has no side effects and no withdrawl yet works better for pain. It should never have been put in the same class as other hard drugs that have shown time and time again to waste mind and body. I'm glad they voted yes and am looking forward to it being legal and regulated. Frankly, between equal marriage and legal pot Washington state is going to have a good year. The federal government needs to catch up on both issues.

JohnThomas
JohnThomas

odeciomendesrocha

The subject is ending marijuana prohibition. Prohibitionists like to lump marijuana with the hard drugs to cloud the issue and cast their harms onto marijuana. - No one thought it was necessary to discuss opium when we were ending alcohol prohibition. Each drug is a different story, with different levels of harm, and requiring unique regulatory systems.

We don't have the same policy for alcohol as we have for tobacco as we have for caffiene.

Marijuana OTC

odeciomendesrocha
odeciomendesrocha

Vamos todos eliminar com o Narcotráfico, legalizando a maconha.

Cada viciado, terá sua dose diária gratuita nas farmácias.

Legalizar, também, a cocaína, a morfina e a heroína .

Tank you

odeciomendesrocha

JayCalhoun
JayCalhoun

Some people believe that "LIBERTY" shouldn't just be an ad slogan on our (fake) money and in our abused foundational documents.  We either have liberty or we don't.  If I can't eat a pot brownie or do the occasional line of cocaine, then I'm not free...so where's this advertised Liberty at, anyways?

JayCalhoun
JayCalhoun

Why is it even illegal?  Considering just what is legal in the US, including amphetamines (in part given to millions of kids as young as 6 or 7), barbiturates, alcohol, cigarettes, aspartame and other artificial sweeteners, a whole host of chemical additives to food, a whole host of under-/untested drugs, household products that are often very dangerous, infant mutilation, gasoline (the ultimate terrorist weapon, when you think of it), guns, knifes, ....i mean it's OBVIOUSLY not a public health issue, that sure doesn't make sense at all.  And it has nothing to do with people going crazy and hurting others.  It is illegal for economic and political reasons, in part to help the pharmaceutical industry, the alcohol industry, etc. and in part to control people's minds from getting to "enlightened" which pot can definitely do.  For that matter, cocaine and heroin aren't so dangerous either, but can also cause illuminated states of mind, and also are useful for self-medication, and actually better than a lot of the stuff that is pushed by shrinks and other doctors.  I mean, Tylenol is far from safe...just look up that one thing and you will begin to realize a lot.  Tylenol causes liver damage in everyone.  Xanax (and it's family of drugs) is the most physically addictive drug known, maybe, and also extremely detrimental to the brain and body.  But, it's legal and easy to get..."Doctor, I am anxious and can't sleep..."  Here you go!  "Doctor, my little Johnnie won't sit still.."   and so on.  Lots of legal ways to mess yourself up, and your kids while you are at it.  Drug prohibition is a nightmare and there is just no good reason for it...ok, no sane reason, no humane reason.  There are plenty of reasons, I suppose.

zastyj
zastyj

Wow a lot of you people are really dumb. The dumbest being all these people tossing out opinions as if they are facts that are backed up by research. Not one of you is an expert so stop talking like you people are. Weed is harmless that’s my OPINION. I have used it many times and find nothing wrong and nothing addictive about it. I haven’t smoked in a month and was smoking every day before hand and in no way am I feening for a joint, it’s not crack, meth, heroin and alcohol people. I just stopped because I thought a break would be o.k. It all comes down to personal responsibility, which is something people don’t like to take sometimes. I have a bigger problem with people making excuses for EVERYTHING than I do some one smoking weed as long as that person takes personal responsibility for their actions. Get your heads out of your asses and realize that everyone doesn’t have to live how some people want others to live. We should all be entitled to live the lives we want to live. That’s called FREEDOM. And if after putting in 40-50 hours of work a week, I want to relax and smoke a little on the weekends then that should not be an issue at all. And people who have a problem with that should just analyze their lives and worry about themselves especially you Bob Moody you sound like an uneducated retard who lives with his mother at 40 and probably puts on women’s under wear and jerks off in his free time because he has no friends to chill with, you ignorant ass clown.

PlumbLine
PlumbLine

1 Corinthians 5:6-7.........6 Your boasting about this is terrible. Don’t you realize that this sin is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough? 7 Get rid of the old “yeast” by removing this wicked person from among you. Then you will be like a fresh batch of dough made without yeast, which is what you really are. Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us.

Zumba900
Zumba900

Prohibition is the problem, not, Pot.

It's either a FREE country..or it's not! Stop criminalizing people over a nothing.

At it's worst, pot is harmless.  The savings from  the end of the Drug War, would negate even the need to tax it!

Let the people speak!

popularusaguy@yahoo.com
popularusaguy@yahoo.com

Miss Morino,

just viewing your God awful picture, I believe that you must be hooked on this dangerous narcotic.

just wait until someone driving behind you runs into you because they are wasted on marijuana and cannot function as it appears you have a great deal of trouble functioning.

we don't need these narcotics to escape reality, just like the next step for you is heroin, meth or something similar

BobMoody
BobMoody

Legalizing weed will give the cartels more time and efficiency to sell harder drugs like heroin, cocaine, and meth.  They are not nearly as bulky as weed and are much more profitable due to the higher prices they can charge for these drugs, and because these drugs are more addictive than weed.  So the cartels will get a more directive line of products, cheaper transportation costs, higher profit margins and a stronger addictive customer.  Win-Win for everybody!

RScandle
RScandle

Good god,it' only a relaxant,give it a break!

AnanyaMorino
AnanyaMorino

Sorry, but keeping it illegal makes it more fun AND what do people think is going to happen once the government starts hitting weed with taxes? What is going to happen you ask? People like me who smoke weed will REFUSE to pay the gov't taxes. Taxing weed is the ANTITHESIS of weed culture. So, people like myself will continue to buy better, cheaper weed from the dealers we are already buying it from now, and then, the entire drug war will escalate. More people will be killed in Mexico. Legalization is an opening salvo to a pan latin american drug war in the western hemisphere unlike anything anyone has ever seen. People need to stop citing Holland and Portugal as successful examples of drug legalization - we are not either one of those countries. We are a massive evolving creature  of a nation with over 300 million people. Far different from Holland folks.

Dedprez11
Dedprez11

@TIME @timeworld Speaking of this topic, MA is now racing to get it together on dispensaries. Profile reviews, location, distance aprt begin

QuietStormX
QuietStormX

Look the DEA's Schedule 1 law against Marijuana is based on a lie. It gouped with the others that are chemicals that are combined and produced after processing. Plus with then you have the chance to go overboard and overdouse...  Have you noticed that in reports on this story, people smile and laugh. Probable at some time in their life, they might have smoked a joint back then? Anyone who has knows the effects with  after effects after a couple of hours or less. It's stupid to think you can have your clear mind High, and driving. It's like driving wasted. Your reflexes are not sharp. Just a nice buzz, then chill out. So much has been lost on the drug war period. And people who have not had a joint, should try it first. Then have something to say.

SalemSwift
SalemSwift

Forgive me in advance for my ignorance as to how these things work on a deeper level, but Two thoughts:

1. Isn't there the potential for marijuana to go through the same situation as conflict diamonds?  If/when pot is legal on a larger scale, how can we expedite the process of going beyond what happened/is happening in the diamond trade.  I don't want cartel pot.

2. Could a cartel more technically become a legal business entity simply by paying taxes, provided they don't do the whole murder/kidnap/boil people into soup thing?

Fejar
Fejar

At least we achieved something this election. Besides becoming the newest Socialist country in the world.   R.I.P.  America

RonaldMcloughlin
RonaldMcloughlin

The human species has needed a pick-me-up to survive the everyday, humdrum existence. Society is in conspiracy to human kind enjoying life. Grass has been the most indisputable drug of choice, the common man's elixir.

darksparck
darksparck

The US, here is a country that has everything, still for some reason its citizens manage to be one of the most unhappy people on this planet, so they resort to drug use to artificially be happy. It's actually sad.

revraygreen
revraygreen

The GREEN CLOSET has now been opened. To the GOP/agents of Lucifer, who are worried about the next re-enactment of "Behind the Green Door" behind closed doors,

UleNotknow
UleNotknow

Legalize marijuana in the US? No problem. But don't think for a minute that cartels will go away. They'll just find other drugs and other avenues to keep themselves in operation.

MartinBlank
MartinBlank

Timber, Pharmaceutical, and the Private Prison/Enforcement industry still see the financial threat legalization poses to their bottom-line.  This was a fantastic move forward, but expect resistance.  In the end, it is losing battle to keep it illegal, and a waste.  Prohibition showed us that organized crime will fill the void where an industry should be, if the masses refuse to stop consumption.  All we are doing is perpuating violence, clogging our court systems and prisons from dealing properly with violent offenders, and even stifling potential economic benefit.

luchomet
luchomet

man this article took forever to read!!!!!

Patines
Patines

There is a good lesson in the movie "The Godfather" when whiskey was illegal and what's happening now with the wonderful Mary Jean. Yes, there will be new radio commercials, "If you smoke weed, don't speed"; "Smoking weed and speeding is NOT a good combination"; "Parents, do not smoke weed with your children"; "Children are not allowed to smoke weed in public places".

Acting responsible in whatever you do is a sign of maturity.

AlPerry
AlPerry

the insurance companies are the happiest of them all!!!!! car accident pee test,work accident pee test, job app pee test, house burns down pee test. It changes nothing in my oppinion. the only ones smokin are the sick and the stupid!!!

Medical_Community
Medical_Community

Finally we're moving forward! Many of us in the medical community knowat least a handful of patients who have had late stage and terminalcancers vanish, with the correct application of cannabis oils, somebefore, and others even after resorting to surgery, syntheticmedications, chemos and radiation with no improvement.   

 Anyone with potential medical ailments should google:

 Granny Storm Crow's Medical List (an enormous collection of literally thousands of positive medical studies on cannabis!)

 BadKittySmilesCannaPharm (tutorials for incredibly impressive and powerful medicalgrade oils with advanced bioavailability, that are easy enough foranyone to make, even if you only have few supplies, w/ recipes formedicated beef jerky, canna cheese cake, glowing hard candies, turkeydinners, meat pies, hash extracts and tinctures, and more! Besideseffectively treating insomnia, anxiety, MS, Parkinson's, and otherserious ailments, members of several forums and communities have postedjournals leading to the complete remission of their own, and their lovedones cancers, using these techniques... look out for the Book!!!)  

Rick Simpson (for the original cancer curing Phoenix Tears hemp oil!!!!)

odeciomendesrocha
odeciomendesrocha

Legalizar tudo: Maconha, morfina, cocaína.

Que todos os viciados tenha sua dose diária nos postos de saúde, nas farmácias etc.

É uma maneira de acabar com o Narcotráfico.

AnnieRose
AnnieRose

The marijuana laws started because a long time ago Oil became popular with the people. Dupont stepped and and the oils companies were born. The knew if the people of the US found out how much cheaper they could run their cars by companies making oil from the Hemp plants ( which are easy and cheaper to grow and have numerous uses) It would have put the oil companies out of business so, they devised a sceme with the politicians of the time, to put POT on the highest outlawed drug list.  I knew it was a matter of time before this would all start to come out. Anyone remember REFER MADNESS?... what a joke that was.

EddyLaBarr
EddyLaBarr

Amendment 64 was long overdue. The US needs to Repeal Federal Marijuana Prohibition and replace it with a $100 per ounce Import Tax

DoodleBug
DoodleBug

This > "His thrust: it could help enervate Mexico’s violent drug cartels. “The drug consumer in the U.S. yields billions of dollars, money that goes back to Mexico to bribe police and money that buys guns,”

Except.. even if you legalize pot - that is not the ONLY drug the cartel is peddling....

dartmouth9537
dartmouth9537

IMO this is going to turn into a clash of the will of the people and their states against the federal government. Pot is only the enabler. Frisbees could be in the place of pot for all we care. It will be interesting to see federal government troops (DEA, FBI, etc) engage state troops when the feds come bearing down Main St USA to enforce federal law. The state government and it's governor must protect its citizens and the will of the people - in this case the legalization of pot. Will the state and municipal law enforcement agencies side with the Feds? Or will they protect the state and the laws it's citizens have passed? Just like a soap opera... The next year will be interesting indeed.

RonPaulfan
RonPaulfan

"Furthermore, U.N. treaties oblige all signatories to prohibit thelegalization of marijuana as well as cocaine, heroin andmethamphetamine."

Thank you for covering this.  Many people do not know that the Federal Government has allowed the United Nations to dictate some of the the laws that the Feds pursue.  This is very important for the people of this nation to realize that many laws are initiated by people who are not even in this country.

WE THE PEOPLE do not have a say when our laws are initiated by people at the United Nations.

People need to understand this as it's important for our future freedoms.

FrankMirinam
FrankMirinam

Sometimes I poop, sometimes droop, and that's the scoop.

mrxexon
mrxexon

It's time the people made the government bend to their will. That's the whole idea behind democracy.

We need a nationwide vote on this issue and it's time somebody brought the fight up to that level.

x

PlumbLine
PlumbLine

Good luck in trying to compete with the rising tiger in the east, when the west is going to hell in a hand basket........

Marajuana legalization would just further corrupt our young people, and weaken the will of our nations..................Isaiah 14:12........“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations!

formerlyjames
formerlyjames

I have no dog in this hunt as I've never been a mj user, but can observe that the Obama administration, which I support on most issues, has been giving a hard time to California for it's medical mj practices.  I doubt that this legislation will go unchallenged by the DOJ and the anti-drug bureaucratic lobbies DEA and ATF.  One other fact is that President Obama has experience from his youth in the matter,  I lack.

JohnDavidDeatherage
JohnDavidDeatherage

Why does Marijuana fall under Federal control?  Isn't this a States Rights / 10th amendment issue?