Mexico’s incoming foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, said the country could “absolutely” follow Canada in legalizing marijuana as a way to reduce violence generated by a war on drugs that “doesn’t work.”
This week he met with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and said that Ottawa’s experience “is a very interesting option in the short term for Mexico.”
According to Ebrard – who will become the foreign minister when Mexico’s president-elect, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, takes office on December 1 – “there are two options: the Canadian model or the Uruguay model.”
Canada legalized the possession and use of recreational marijuana last week, making it the world’s second and largest country with a legal national cannabis marketplace. It followed Uruguay, which became the first country in the world to legalize the production, sale, and consumption of marijuana in 2013.
Ebrard explained that “It doesn’t make sense to have a law forbidding the possession or production of cannabis and we have 9,000 people in jail for that, we have a huge amount of violence in the country.”
“You spend a huge amount of money [on policing], you cause suffering for a lot of people and it doesn’t make sense,” he added.
“[Prohibition] doesn’t work, you have the cannabis anyway,” the incoming FM said.
The Mexican government has been fighting with drug traffickers since December 2006, while drug cartels have fought each other for control of territory. The government deployed the army to fight the cartels.
More than 200,000 people have been murdered in the past 12 years, including a record 28,702 last year. Another 37,000 people are reported missing.
Mexico has long been a major supplier of marijuana and other illegal drugs to the United States. Statistics show that Mexican cartels take in between $19 billion and $29 billion annually from drug sales in the US.