A Solution to the Drug War?

The 2012 US election proved to be an election about social issues. From legalizing gay marriage to rejecting pro-life candidates, America is going through a large social transition. One of the largest social changes, and the change that has the biggest effect on foreign policy, is the legalization of marijuana in two states, Washington and Colorado, for this will significantly impact drug trade in Latin America.

 

Washington’s legalization passed strictly because of its 25% tax on marijuana, making marijuana more expensive throughout the state. Therefore, Colorado’s legalization will likely have the greater impact. In a state with more medical marijuana dispensaries than Starbucks, marijuana could easily be used more than alcohol in the future.

 

So what does this have to do with Latin America? The answer is simple. If this trend continues and marijuana legalization spreads across the US, the need for Latin American drug trade is greatly reduced.

This is specifically true in Mexico, a nation that is often known for its trafficking of marijuana across the border into the US. Many Mexican officials have acknowledged this recently. For example, Luis Videgaray, a top advisor of the president-elect Peña Nieto, was recently quoted arguing that legalization “changes the rules of the game in the relationship with the United States.” He continued to argue that, “Obviously, we can’t handle a product that is illegal in Mexico, trying to stop its transfer to the United States, when in the United States, at least in part of the United States, it now has a different status.” [1]

 

The effects of the legalization on Mexico will likely not happen for a while. First, the states need to actually figure out how to legalize the drug, a difficult task considering President Obama’s stance on legalization. Additionally, it will likely take more than two states to have a significant impact. However, if this trend does continue (possibly paralleling the exponential approval of gay marriage), America and Mexico could likely find a solution to the war on drugs.

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