Drugs
4:16 pm
Thu November 8, 2012

As Pot Initiatives Pass in Colorado and Washington, Mexico May Reconsider Drug Policy

The head of incoming Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto's transition team says that Mexico may re-evaluate its policies regarding marijuana export to the United States.

Currently, Mexico works with the United States to discourage the growing of pot within Mexico, and to prevent its shipment across the border to the United States.

But today Luis Videgaray, a top aid to Peña Nieto, characterized votes by Colorado and Washington to legalize marijuana use and personal cultivation as a game changer.

The Washington Times reports that in remarks to a Mexico City radio station, Videgaray said that "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."

According to the Times, Videgaray added that "These modifications change somewhat the rules of the game in the relationship with the United States. I think we have to carry out  a review of our joint policies in regard to drug trafficking and security in general. "

With regard to the Mexican drug cartels, global security expert Fred Burton, VP of Intelligence at Austin-based Stratfor, says the legalization of pot by two states, or even a few states, will have no effect. Burton says the cartels "make a tremendous amount of money with methamphetamine (crystal meth) and heroin, to the point that their business model is so robust that this is just a glitch" in their operations.

Burton says if the cartels' marijuana profits are down, they can offset the decline by ramping up their other criminal activities.

That view is not shared by The Economist, which argues in a recent article that marijuana exports are worth $2 billion to the Mexican economy. The article quotes a study by Mexican think tank IMCO that says the legalization of pot in a few American states would put so much high-THC homegrown marijuana on the market that the cartels' pot profits could drop by nearly three-fourths. The Sinaloa cartel, for example, could lose half its revenue, according to the study.

A change in Mexico's drug policies would represent a shift in U.S.-Mexico relations.  The two countries have worked together to try to stop illegal drugs from crossing the border into the United States.