The changing landscape of marijuana

Angel Vera, Staff Writer

This past Wednesday, a major breakthrough was made with Mexican drug policy as the Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación (Supreme Court of Mexico), ruled in favor of Mexican citizens having the right to grow and distribute marijuana for their personal use. Although this does not strike down any current laws or allow for commercial production, it is a start for the much needed marijuana reform not only in Mexico but in all of Latin America.

Mexico has been plagued with an epidemic of drug wars since the 1980s, which started predominantly with the smuggling of marijuana into American markets and black markets around the world. American prohibition has also fueled an illegal drug industry for its firm and staunch positions on drugs.

Mexico itself has had a stance of zero tolerance of all drugs, following the pattern most Latin American countries have on marijuana, with the exception of Uruguay, which has implemented liberal drug policies. Brazil has also started to open the floor for debates on possible reform.

Although this may not make an immediate impact on drug smuggling, it does send a message to the Mexican government and to American policy makers that prohibition and criminalization does not equate into safety and prevention. Nonetheless, this ruling has already had its criticisms, as president Peña Nieto has stated “an open door for which the inclusion and consumption of drugs is allowed is much more harmful for our health.” That feeling also mimics the sentiment of the older and more conservative minded Mexican generation.

The way the general public views drugs, especially marijuana, is changing for the better. Similar to the American prohibition of alcohol, politicians and policy makers are realizing marijuana has become as embedded in our social culture as tobacco or alcohol.. Bernie Sanders made headlines this week for introducing a reform bill that would “limit the application of Federal laws to the distribution and consumption of marijuana, and for other purposes.”

Taking stem with what Colorado has done with marijuana regulation, it seems illogical not to tap into that revenue stream, which from January to July of this year has created a tax revenue of $73.5 million and counting according to Colorado’s Department of Revenue. The money it would save from sending an astonishing amount of Americans to jail from non-violent and petty drug related charges.

Why marijuana is held to the same scrutiny as heroin or crack-cocaine is beyond the understanding of many Americans and it’s an issue that the government has continuously failed to solve.

This failure has not only hurt American citizens due to the extreme incarceration rates, but it has also increased violence domestic abroad and taken away from possible revenue that could be used in the public sector. If the health and safety of our children and communities really is the priority, then what our policies have done to communities in Mexico and the United States have fallen short of that promise.