Osorio Chong speaks at marijuana conference. Osorio Chong speaks at marijuana debate.

War on drugs was a mistake: Osorio Chong

Interior Secretary's remarks came at the third marijuana conference

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.

Source: Reforma (sp), Milenio (sp)

Stories from our archives that you might enjoy

  • Herradura Plata

    Wars are easier to start than to stop, as many have said, but few understand. In this case, 40-odd years of wasted blood and treasure have, in the end, led to this declaration by Osorio, the second most powerful man in government and quite possibly the next President of Mexico, when Peña Nieto´s term expires in 2018.

  • Calderon did not launch the war on drugs, which has been ongoing for a long time. He simply escalated the fight against narcos, and it backfired. Previous administrations just looked the other way.

    The war on drugs, which began in the U.S. during the Nixon administration, is colossally stupid and monumentally counterproductive.

    • Austin Starr

      I agree 1000%. The ‘war on drugs’ was a political strategy born in the U.S. out of a need to demonize hippies and other ‘counter-culture’ types. Its purpose, strategy and execution was established to incarcerate poor and/or non-white people and in that it’s been very successful.

    • Herradura Plata

      Agreed that Calderón escalated the “drug war” on taking office in 2006; of that there is zero doubt. But an earlier “escalation” came in 2004, when the Bush Administration refused to renew a 10-year ban on the sale of “assault weapons,” put in place by Bill Clinton. Thus arrived in Mexico a veritable flood of AK 47s, AR 15s and Barret .50 cal sniper rifles, all aimed at “escalating” the power of drug gangs defending against Calderón´s “escalation.” And so it went……

  • alance

    During president Calderón’s administration, the Mexican government spent approximately $7 USD billion in an 18-month-old campaign against drug cartels as part of the Mérida Initiative of 2008. It was a colossal mistake and terribly mismanaged!