Thursday, November 8, 2012 |
Borderland Beat Reporter
The main adviser to Mexico's president-elect said Wednesday that votes legalizing recreational marijuana in the U.S. states of Washington and Colorado will force Mexico and the United States to rethink their efforts to halt marijuana smuggling across the border.
Luis Videgaray, head of incoming PresidentEnrique Peña Nieto's transition team, told Radio Formula that the Mexican administration taking power in three weeks remains opposed to drug legalization. But he said the votes in the two states complicate his country's commitment to quashing the growing and smuggling of a plant now seen by many as legal in part of the United States.
"These important modifications change somewhat the rules of the game in the relationship with the United States," Videgaray said. "I think that we have to carry out a review of our joint policies in regard to drug trafficking and security in general."
Videgaray has been central to the planning of a U.S. trip by Peña Nieto planned for Nov. 27. Videgaray said security would obviously be discussed during that trip, and he indicated that marijuana legalization would be an important topic.
"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," Videgaray said. "I believe this obliges us to rethink the relationship in regards to security. ... This is an unforeseen element."
The current Mexican administration has been vehemently opposed to pro-marijuana measures in the United States, and PresidentFelipe Calderonspoke out against a similar legalization move in California two years ago. Calderon and members of his Cabinet remained silent Wednesday on the U.S. votes.
In other Latin American countries, where cocaine production is dominant, some officials, ordinary citizens and independent experts said they expected little immediate change in U.S. drug policy, but expressed hope that the marijuana votes were the start of a softening in U.S. attitudes toward drug production.
Alejandro Hope, a former high-ranking official in Mexico's internal intelligence service who has studied the potential effects of legalization measures, said he was optimistic legalization in the two states would damage Mexican drug cartels.
Hope said a flourishing legal pot market in Colorado could reduce Mexican cartels' estimated annual income from roughly $6 billion to about $4.6 billion.