Sat, Nov 17, 2012 - Page 7 News List

Mexico lawmaker introduces bill to legalize marijuana

Reuters, MEXICO CITY

A Mexican lawmaker on Thursday presented a bill to legalize the production, sale and use of marijuana, adding to a growing chorus of Latin American politicians who are rejecting US policies.

The bill is unlikely to win much support in Congress since a strong majority of Mexicans are firmly against legalizing drugs, but may spur a broader debate in Mexico after two US states voted to allow recreational use of marijuana last week. US officials have said it remains illegal and that they are reviewing the state actions.

The split between local and federal governments in the US is feeding a challenge in Latin America to the four-decade-old policies that Washington promoted to disrupt illegal drug cultivation and smuggling.

“The prohibitionist paradigm is a complete failure,” said Fernando Belaunzaran, the author of the bill from the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), who presented the proposal in Mexico’s lower house of Congress.

“All this has done is spur more violence, the business continues. The country that has paid the highest costs is Mexico,” he said in a telephone interview.

A conflict between drug gangs and security forces has killed more than 60,000 people during the six-year rule of outgoing Mexican President Felipe Calderon.

Frustration with US policy deepened after voters in Washington State and Colorado approved the recreational use of marijuana.

Across Latin America, there is a growing view that Washington’s “war on drugs” is not working.

Uruguay’s government submitted a legalization bill to Congress this week that would put the state in charge of marijuana cultivation and distribution.

In September, Calderon and the leaders of Colombia and Guatemala called on world governments to explore new alternatives to the problem.

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