Mex­i­can pot plans go up in a puff of smoke on Nov. 6

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - BY JERRY SEPER

A top aide to Mex­i­can Pres­i­den­t­elect En­rique Pena Ni­eto says votes to le­gal­ize the recre­ational use of marijuana in Colorado and Wash­ing­ton state will force the Mex­i­can gov­ern­ment to re­think its ef­forts at try­ing to halt marijuana smug­gling across the south­west­ern bor­der.

Luis Vide­garay, for­mer gen­eral co­or­di­na­tor of Mr. Pena Ni­eto’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign this year and now head of the tran­si­tion team, told Ra­dio For­mula 970 in Mex­ico City that the new ad­min­is­tra­tion has con­sis­tently op­posed the le­gal­iza­tion of drugs, and the Colorado and Wash­ing­ton votes con­flict with his gov­ern­ment’s long-stand­ing and costly ef­forts to erad­i­cate the cul­ti­va­tion and smug­gling of marijuana.

“These im­por­tant mod­i­fi­ca­tions change some­what the rules of the game in the re­la­tion­ship with the United States,” Mr. Vide­garay said. “I think we have to carry out a re­view of our joint poli­cies in re­gard to drug traf­fick­ing and se­cu­rity in gen­eral.

“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,” he said.

Mr. Vide­garay is expected to play a sig­nif­i­cant role in the Pena Ni­eto ad­min­is­tra­tion. The pres­i­dent-elect, who will as­sume of­fice Dec. 1, said in Septem­ber that Mr. Vide­garay would head the team that will set pol­icy di­rec­tion for the new gov­ern­ment.

More than 47,000 peo­ple have been killed in drug-re­lated vi­o­lence in Mex­ico since Pres­i­dent Felipe Calderon be­gan a mil­i­tary as­sault on vi­o­lent drug car­tels in 2006. Many of the dead have in­cluded Mex­i­can mil­i­tary per­son­nel and po­lice.

Dur­ing his pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, Mr. Pena Ni­eto vowed to continue Mex­ico’s fight against drug traf­fick­ing, al­though he said he would re­vise strate­gies and work to re­duce vi­o­lence. Some U.S. pol­i­cy­mak­ers have ex­pressed con­cerns that his In­sti­tu­tional Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Party (PRI) had been known for al­low­ing drug-traf­fick­ing car­tels semi­au­tonomous con­trol of cer­tain re­gions.

The topic of le­gal­ized marijuana is sure to come up dur­ing Mr. Pena Ni­eto’s planned Nov. 27 trip to the U.S., when he will visit the White House.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has been silent on the is­sue of le­gal­ized recre­ational marijuana, al­though it vig­or­ously and pub­licly op­posed a sim­i­lar mea­sure in 2010 in Cal­i­for­nia that ul­ti­mately was de­feated. At that time, At­tor­ney Gen­eral Eric H. Holder Jr. is­sued a warn­ing let­ter say­ing the Jus­tice Depart­ment would en­force fed­eral drug laws even if the state ini­tia­tive passed.

In the let­ter, Mr. Holder said the Jus­tice Depart­ment re­mained com­mit­ted to pro­vi­sions of the Con­trolled Sub­stances Act in all states, “even if such ac­tiv­i­ties are per­mit­ted un­der state law.”

In the let­ter, he ar­gued that le­gal­iz­ing recre­ational marijuana would be a “sig­nif­i­cant im­ped­i­ment” to fed­eral ef­forts with state and lo­cal law en­force­ment au­thor­i­ties to tar­get drug traf­fick­ers.

Mr. Holder did not pub­licly com­ment on this year’s ef­forts to le­gal­ize the recre­ational use of marijuana in Colorado and Wash­ing­ton state.

Asked about the Colorado and Wash­ing­ton state votes, Jus­tice Depart­ment spokes­woman Nanda Chitre said only: “The depart­ment’s en­force­ment of the Con­trolled Sub­stances Act re­mains un­changed. In en­act­ing the Con­trolled Sub­stances Act, Congress de­ter­mined that marijuana is a Sched­ule 1 con­trolled sub­stance. We are re­view­ing the bal­lot ini­tia­tives and have no ad­di­tional com­ment at this time.”

The White House has is­sued no com­ment on Mr. Vide­garay’s re­marks.

Of­fi­cials at the Mex­i­can Em­bassy in Wash­ing­ton de­clined to com­ment, not­ing that the Pena Ni­eto ad­min­is­tra­tion is part of the PRI while they be­long to the Par­tido Ac­cion Na­cional, or the PAN.

The le­gal­iza­tion laws al­low those 21 and older in Wash­ing­ton state to pur­chase an ounce of marijuana from a li­censed re­tailer and in Colorado to pos­sess an ounce of the drug and grow as many as six plants in pri­vate. The Colorado law is sched­uled to go into ef­fect in June. The Wash­ing­ton law starts in De­cem­ber 2013.

As a Sched­ule 1 drug un­der the Con­trolled Sub­stances Act, marijuana is deemed to have a high po­ten­tial for abuse and has no ac­cepted med­i­cal use. Other Sched­ule 1 drugs in­clude heroin, LSD and Ec­stasy.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.