Interior Secretary Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong says waging a war on drugs was a mistake for which Mexico has had to pay a high cost.
Osorio Chong was speaking at the closing ceremony of the third national debate on marijuana use in Coahuila.
The Interior Secretary suggested the country needs a balanced control over illegal drugs that “guarantees freedoms and rights, but also protects health; regulation that goes beyond punishment and permits a broader approach to the issue.”
Osorio Chong said “the high price of the ill-named war on drugs is widely known . . . that war was based on a mistaken diagnosis and an ill-designed strategy which brought upon an unprecedented escalation in violence.” He said a distinction must be made between the harm drugs cause and mistaken drug policies.
“A possible legalization of marijuana should not be geared towards revenue, but should instead give priority to public health.” He said people involved in the illegal production of cannabis should “be incorporated into a legal market.”
Osorio conceded that the use of marijuana could be linked to every Mexican’s right to personal development, but it should also be acknowledged that “a plurality of visions should always be based upon a solid and up-to-date regulatory framework.”
This framework, he added, should accurately assess the costs of the current model and those under legalization, and consider not only the economic terms but what it would mean to individuals, society and health.
Former president Felipe Calderón, whose administration launched the war on drugs, didn’t take long to respond to the Interior Secretary’s remarks.
He said a mistaken diagnosis would be to suppose that a war on drugs could be waged without combating organized crime. Violence is driven by the expansion of criminal organizations fighting for control, and the indifference or inefficiency of the state to exercise control over its territory, he said.