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Drug Legalization Debate Erupts in Mexico

Submitted by smorgan on

You can't call it a fringe idea when heads of state are bringing it up. Following Mexican President Felipe Calderon's call for a debate about legalizing drugs, his predecessor Vicente Fox is going a step further and calling for outright legalization.

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MEXICO CITY (AP) — Former President Vicente Fox is joining with those urging his successor to legalize drugs in Mexico, saying that could break the economic power of the country's brutal drug

"We should consider legalizing the production, distribution and sale of drugs," wrote Fox, who was president from 2000 to 2006 and is a member of Calderon's conservative National Action Party. "Radical prohibition strategies have never worked."

"Legalizing in this sense does not mean drugs are good and don't harm those who consume them," he wrote. "Rather we should look at it as a strategy to strike at and break the economic structure that allows gangs to generate huge profits in their trade, which feeds corruption and increases their areas of power."

The full-on legalization debate that's seemed inevitable in Mexico for so long now is finally beginning to take shape. And isn't it amazing that the discussion is emerging from the highest levels of government? In America, it's taken decades of grassroots activism to provoke a serious discussion within mainstream political culture. Our president remains rudely dismissive even when confronted by surging support for reform within his base.

Though engaged in the same conversation, our two countries are worlds apart when it comes to the consequences of prohibition. The exhaustion felt by Fox and Calderon is beyond justified and, if anything, I'm surprised they're only now beginning to test the waters for a change in direction. Given the imperative that there remain synchronicity between Mexican and American drug policy, my best guess would be that Mexican leadership has been anticipating a move towards legalization for some time now and simply waiting for a favorable political climate in which to begin floating the idea.

At the very least, vocalizing Mexico's reluctance to continue prohibition is a fine negotiating tactic when it comes to securing American drug war funding. "Pay up, or we'll shut it down," is probably the best angle they've got at this point. Let's hope there's more to it than that.

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