Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Tuesday, February 06, 2018


When developments outside a political system cause changes within the system, we label those developments externalities. Often externalities, like this one, are unexpected.

With U.S. competition hurting its marijuana business, Mexico warms a little to legalization
For decades, marijuana flowed in one direction across the U.S.-Mexico border: north.

These days, drug enforcement agents regularly seize specialty strains of retail-quality cannabis grown in the United States being smuggled south.

Widespread legalization in the U.S. is killing Mexico's marijuana business, and cartel leaders know it. They are increasingly abandoning the crop that was once was their bread and butter and looking elsewhere for profits, producing and exporting drugs including heroin and fentanyl and banking on extortion schemes and fuel theft.

So when Mexico's tourism secretary this week boldly declared his hopes that Mexico will legalize marijuana for recreational use in an effort to reduce growing violence across the nation, some balked at the notion that marijuana was driving the bloodshed.
Legalization protest last May
[T]hat a Cabinet member was willing to advocate such a policy marks a dramatic shift from a time when Washington dictated a hard-line drug policy across Latin America…

The legalization debate comes amid Mexico's bloodiest wave of violence yet. There were more than 29,000 homicide victims in 2017, more than in any year since the government began releasing homicide records two decades earlier.

The drug trade generates between $6 billion and $8 billion a year for Mexico, according to the RAND Drug Policy Research Center, which estimates that 15% to 26% of that comes from marijuana…

The tourism secretary, Enrique de la Madrid… a member of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, is one of a growing number of Mexican leaders who have called for pot legalization…

In the U.S., marijuana is legal in some form in a majority of states and will soon be permitted for recreational use in eight. Cannabis is already legally sold for recreational use in Uruguay and will be later this year in Canada. Several Latin American countries, including Chile, Brazil, Peru, Costa Rica and Colombia, have changed laws to make marijuana more available for either medical or recreational use.

Full legalization faces an uphill battle in Mexico, where a majority of voters and the Catholic Church are opposed to the idea. A 2015 poll conducted by the newspaper El Universal found that two-thirds of Mexicans oppose decriminalizing cannabis, although 63% said they backed a debate on the issue…

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed. Use the search box to look for country names or concept labels attached to each entry.

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