Marijuana: Mexico sees Amendment 64 as way to moderate its pot policy, analyst says
"Because the U.S. is the dominant power we are, we've used diplomatic leverage to prevent Mexico and other Latin American countries from talking too much about legalization. But now that these states [Colorado and Washington] have taken action, it's given them leeway to talk more about legalization and how we need to look at alternatives to the current policy."
When asked if he thinks pressure from Calderon and the other leaders might dissuade the federal government from bringing the hammer down in Colorado and Washington to prevent the respective measures from going into effect, Riffle disputes the premise.
Dan Riffle, as seen in a Marijuana Policy Project photo.
"I'm not sure we really expect a hammer coming down," he says. "The leeway they've shown to Colorado's medical marijuana program shows that the federal government has already taken a softer approach -- given states leeway to enforce the policies they want.
"There's nothing the federal government can do about Colorado removing criminal penalties" for adults 21 and over who possess an ounce or less of marijuana, he goes on. "The best they can do is interfere with Colorado's regulation of the manufacture and sale of marijuana -- and I don't see any public-policy reason to do that. Whether you're in Colorado or Mexico, I think most people want marijuana to be taken away from the cartels and put in the hands of taxpaying, regulated businesses."
As he points out, "the federal government has known for over a year that these two ballot initiatives were going to be on the ballot, and they've known since July they were polling over 50 percent, and their silence speaks volumes. So I think they'll play a minimalist constitutional role, where their primary concern is the prevention of interstate trafficking. I think they'll say that what Colorado wants to do is Colorado's business, but they want to prevent this from becoming an industry that expands beyond Colorado's border -- at least until those states change laws the way Colorado has."
Of course, there's another border that concerns Mexico. During a radio appearance last week cited in the CBS article linked above, Luis Videgaray, who heads Pena Nieto's transition team, said, "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."
More from our Marijuana archive: "Marijuana: John Hickenlooper stresses urgency in Amendment 64 call to Eric Holder."