A proposal to legalize marijuana in tourist destinations that was put forward this week by the federal tourism secretary has been met with a mixed response from other politicians.
Enrique de la Madrid suggested Thursday that legalizing marijuana in Baja California Sur and Quintana Roo might help combat rising levels of insecurity in those states’ popular tourism destinations. He later said on Twitter that his comments reflected his own personal views.
Speaking yesterday at a state governments’ conference in Guadalajara, Jalisco, the new interior secretary said the Mexican government does not support the legalization of recreational marijuana use.
“Drugs are illegal because they are harmful to health, they don’t stop being harmful to health if they are legal . . . the federal government does not share [de la Madrid’s] approach . . .” Alfonso Navarrete Prida said.
He added that the government had made it clear that it supported the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. He also said that specific security objectives for 2018 would be announced in the coming days and weeks.
In contrast, the governor of Jalisco said at the same conference that he was in favor of the legalization of marijuana use, but took the idea a step further than de la Madrid.
“. . . We need to start a debate regarding the legalization of marijuana. Not just in tourist places, but in the whole country, because what’s killing our young people isn’t consumption [of drugs], it’s the transportation and trafficking of drugs,” Aristóteles Sandoval said.
He called on state congresses and all authorities to work together to confront a “reality that is exploding in our face.”
The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) governor argued that “we must abandon the moral high ground” because the insecurity problem requires an urgent solution.
Sandoval cited a joint study by the Norwegian School of Economics and Pennsylvania State University to back up his view.
The 2017 study found that the legalization of recreational and medicinal marijuana use led to a 13% reduction in violent crime in the U.S. states that border Mexico.
The governor of Baja California Sur — home to the popular tourist destinations of Los Cabos and La Paz — gave a mixed response to the legalization proposal.
“In principle, I’m not in favor of legalization,” Carlos Mendoza Davis said.
However, he promptly added, “but I must also say that it seems foolish and illogical that we’re fighting here with a strategy that costs lives in Mexico but magically, crossing the border, marijuana becomes legal.”
The National Action Party (PAN) governor called for further analysis of the idea and said that if the proposal is adopted, it should apply to the community as a whole, rather than just clearly-defined tourism areas such as resorts.
“. . . It would be very difficult to enclose these types of measures only in some areas of a community,” he said.
The three leading presidential aspirants have also made brief comments about the issue.
At an event in Veracruz yesterday, Ricardo Anaya, the pre-candidate for a PAN-led right-left coalition, said that he supported the idea of a debate on the subject.
However, the pre-candidate for the Morena party, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, or AMLO, refused to be drawn into the issue.
“No comment about it,” he said in Chiapas Thursday adding, “I’m not going to get into that because later they’ll accuse me of being supported by the Russians.”
In Hermosillo, Sonora, the pre-candidate for the PRI, José Antonio Meade, rejected de la Madrid’s idea that one law could apply to certain areas of the country and not others.
“. . . We can’t make a different public policy for different regions . . .” he said before adding that “there has to be a debate, a serious debate” on the issue.