A recent study published by the Royal Economic Society shows that there may be a link between some states passing medical marijuana laws and decreased violence associated with Mexican drug cartels. This appears to be especially stronger in border states.
The Free Beacon reports:
To determine the effect of medical marijuana laws on violent crime rates, the study authors performed three comparisons: They studied crime rates in counties before and after the introduction of medical marijuana; then between counties with and without medical marijuana; and finally, between counties at the border and further inland.
Combining these conclusions results in a reduction of 12.5 percent in the violent crime rate for border counties. Analysis using an alternate data set produced even more stark declines in violence: medical marijuana has "lead to a 40.6 percent decrease in drug-law related homicides in Mexican border states," the study says.
"We find that when a neighbour to a Mexican border state passes a MML [medical marijuana law], this results in a significant reduction in violent crime rates in the border state. More generally, we find that when a state passes a MML this reduces crime rates in the state in which the nearest Mexican border crossing is located. This evidence is consistent with our hypothesis that MMLs lead to a reduction in demand for illegal marijuana, followed by a reduction in revenue for Mexican DTOs, and, hence, a reduction in violence in the Mexican-border area," the study concludes.
You can read the full study here.
According to a story published today by Fox News Latino, the legal marijuana market in Colorado is partially responsible for decreased Mexican drug cartel activity within the U.S. and along the border.
Legal marijuana in Colorado seems to have helped with resolving the problem of drugs in Mexico, says the report, citing the pro-marijuana Weed Blog, which says that over the past two years trafficking of the drug by Mexican cartels has dropped by "up to 70 percent."
An official report by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in October 2015 confirmed the reduction, showing that in 2014 there had been a year-on-year 23 percent drop in border smuggling.
On Thursday, the Colombian government announced that it will make medical marijuana use, cultivation, and sale legal in the near future!
Washington Post reports:
The change is coming in an executive decree that President Juan Manuel Santos will soon sign into law. It will regulate regulating everything from licensing for growers to the eventual export of products made from marijuana, Justice Minister Yesid Reyes said.
With the new policy, Colombia joins countries from Mexico to Chile that have experimented with legalization or decriminalization as part of a wave of changing attitudes toward drug use and policies to combat it in Latin America. But unlike many of its neighbors, Colombia has long been identified with U.S.-backed policies to eradicate drug production and a sharp decline in levels of violence over the past 15 years is largely attributed to the no-tolerance policing.
Sen. Juan Manuel Galan, who last year introduced legislation that tracks with the government’s decree, said that as many as 400,000 Colombians suffering from epilepsy and other ailments could benefit from the clearer regulatory framework to be provided by the decree.
Continuing its support for sensible marijuana policies, The New York Times published an editorial Thursday asking Congress and the president to support a bill, introduced this week by Sen. Bernie Sanders, that would allow states to determine their own marijuana laws.
Support for making marijuana legal is increasing around the world, and that is a good thing. Earlier this week, the Mexican Supreme Court opened the door to legalizing the drug by giving four plaintiffs the right to grow cannabis for personal use.
In Canada, the newly sworn in prime minister, Justin Trudeau, has said he intends to change the law so people can use the drug recreationally; medicinal use is already legal in that country. And in the United States, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president, recently introduced a bill that would let states decide if they want to make the drug legal without worrying about violating federal law.
Laws banning the growing, distribution and possession of marijuana have caused tremendous damage to society, with billions spent on imprisoning people for violating pointlessly harsh laws. Yet research shows that marijuana is far less harmful than alcohol and tobacco, and can be used to treat medical conditions like chronic pain.
What’s needed now is responsible leadership from President Obama and Congress. They ought to seriously consider the kind of legislation Mr. Sanders has proposed.
Our neighbor to the South is one step closer to making marijuana legal after a recent court ruling!
The New York Times reports:
The Mexican Supreme Court opened the door to legalizing marijuana on Wednesday, delivering a pointed challenge to the nation’s strict substance abuse laws and adding its weight to the growing debate in Latin America over the costs and consequences of the war against drugs.
The vote by the court’s criminal chamber declared that individuals should have the right to grow and distribute marijuana for their personal use. While the ruling does not strike down current drug laws, it lays the groundwork for a wave of legal actions that could ultimately rewrite them, proponents of legalization say.
The decision reflects a changing dynamic in Mexico, where for decades the American-backed war on drugs has produced much upheaval but few lasting victories. Today, the flow of drugs to the United States continues, along with the political corruption it fuels in Mexico. The country, dispirited by the ceaseless fight with traffickers, remains engulfed in violence.
The marijuana case has ignited a debate about the effectiveness of imprisoning drug users, in a country with some of the most conservative drug laws in Latin America. But across the region, a growing number of voices are questioning Washington’s strategy in the drug war. With little to show for tough-on-crime policies, the balance appears to be slowly shifting toward other approaches.
On Monday, the Liberal Party in Canada won the national elections by wide margins, promising an impending shift in a number of policy areas, including marijuana. Newly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised that the Canadian government would quickly begin the process of making marijuana legal for adults.
USA Today reports:
Trudeau promised that under his leadership Canada would create a system to tax, regulate and sell marijuana, along with stiff penalties for anyone giving pot to children or caught driving while stoned. The Liberal Party's cannabis legalization statement echoes the language used by many U.S. legalization advocates.
"Canada’s current system of marijuana prohibition does not work. It does not prevent young people from using marijuana and too many Canadians end up with criminal records for possessing small amounts of the drug," the party's position statement says. "To ensure that we keep marijuana out of the hands of children, and the profits out of the hands of criminals, we will legalize, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana."
This development could have a serious impact on marijuana policy in the United States.
On top of that, Mexico's Supreme Court will hold a hearing on October 28 to determine whether federal policies banning the possession and cultivation of marijuana are unconstitutional. Soon, the United States may be the only large nation on the North American continent to carry on the failed policies of marijuana prohibition.
Mexico’s president is hinting that he is considering making marijuana legal south of the border, San Francisco Weekly reports. In an interview published Sunday in El Pais, President Enrique Peña Nieto said that the drug war is a failed policy and that it does not make sense for Mexico to continue its marijuana policy when the United States is becoming increasingly lenient.
The current policy in Mexico is that small quantities of marijuana are legal, but cultivation and distribution remain criminal acts. Mexico has recently seen a drop in marijuana prices for cartel-connected farmers as a result of the United States regulating large portions of the marijuana market here. In addition to his comments on the drug war, President Nieto added that Mexico should not continue on what he called a “path of inconsistency,” as the United States is reconsidering its own failed drug policies.
The US has been the major proponent for the international war on drugs, yet Eric Holder resisted pressure from the UN to sue Washington and Colorado over regulating marijuana last March. Now, a rough draft of a document detailing the United Nation’s future plans for combating illicit drug use has been leaked and reported by the Guardian.
The document, still a rough draft, is meant to ultimately form the UN’s statement on drug policy to be released in the Spring. The draft shows some difference of opinion, particularly among South American countries. According to the document, many countries are ready to end the United States-led plan of prohibition and focus on rehabilitation and treatment for drug users. Columbia, Guatemala, and Mexico have argued that prohibition allows the market to be controlled by dangerous cartels, while Venezuela is calling for a discussion of the economic implications of current drug policy. The European Union also indicated that the final document should include treatment as an alternative to incarceration for drug dependent offenders.
Support for a policy shift from incarceration to treatment has been growing steadily over the years according to the Seattle Post Intelligencer, which cites statements from international leaders and a 2002 committee for the European Parliament, among other indicators. Apparently, the now clear difference in opinion is anything but new.
"The idea that there is a global consensus on drugs policy is fake," said Damon Barrett, deputy director of the charity Harm Reduction International. "The differences have been there for a long time, but you rarely get to see them. It all gets whittled down to the lowest common denominator, when all you see is agreement. But it's interesting to see now what they are arguing about."
Click here to read more about international marijuana policies.
Last week, former President of Mexico and well-known marijuana reform advocate Vicente Fox told reporters that Mexico could legalize marijuana within the next five years.
Fox said that although Mexico’s current leader, President Enrique Pena Nieto, has stated his opposition to legalizing marijuana, impending legalization efforts in key U.S. states could force Mexico to follow their lead. “Once California gets into this,” Fox said, “Mexico is going to speed up its decision process.”
During Fox’s presidency from 2000 to 2006, he was tasked with battling Mexico’s powerful drug cartels. The country’s various efforts to hinder the cartels, including ramping up military attacks, have so far been unsuccessful and have resulted in even more bloodshed. By some estimates, the death toll for casualties of Mexico’s drug war has reached 100,000.
In response to the failure of traditional government tactics, Fox has become a staunch advocate for reforming drug laws, arguing that prohibition has been responsible for creating and sustaining the deadly gang activity. In addition to speaking out publicly against prohibition, Fox has been involved in political advocacy. Earlier this month, the former President met with marijuana reform advocates in San Francisco to discuss the formation of an international partnership dedicated to decriminalizing and regulating marijuana.
Although polls in Mexico reveal little popular support for marijuana legalization, there are pockets of strong support. One of Mexico’s major political parties recently announced its plan to introduce legislation that would make marijuana legal in Mexico City.
In a bizarre case of history repeating itself, another celebrity has been arrested in the Texas border town of Sierra Blanca. Sitting just 10 miles from the Mexico border, Sierra Blanca has an interstate running through it that has become quite a lucrative source of cash and publicity for the local sheriff. In the past several years, Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg (I mean, Snoop Lion), and hacker George Hotz have all been stopped at the same check point and either cited or arrested for marijuana possession.
Now Fiona Apple has joined the club, and it is no laughing matter. Apple was caught with a small amount of marijuana and hash, but it is more serious than it seems. In Texas, possession of any amount of hash is treated as a felony. The amount Apple supposedly had on her bus is punishable by at least two years in prison, and up to 10!
Texas law punishes hash and other marijuana concentrates much more severely than simple marijuana, even though they are essentially the exact same thing aside from the potency. Anything under four grams gets you the penalty Apple is facing, but anything over that can get you 20 years in prison, and over 400 grams can put you behind bars for 99 years.
Texas is one of the few states that make this dubious distinction, but it isn’t the worst. Last April, Oklahoma passed a law making manufacture of hash punishable by a life sentence.
We’ll keep you updated, but it looks like this talented singer could be doing serious time for merely traveling through the wrong town carrying a substance that is safer than alcohol.
Note to celebrities or anyone traveling in a fancy tour bus: STAY AWAY FROM SIERRA BLANCA.