Marijuana: Colorado's key to Mexican leader considering legal pot, advocate says

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto meeting with President Barack Obama shortly after his 2012 election.
In a recent interview, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said he's open to the possibility of legalizing marijuana in his country -- a significant statement, given that he's opposed such a move in the past.

An advocate for progressive marijuana policies in the U.S. believes the pot-legalization examples set by Colorado and Washington state are a big reason why Peña Nieto's views appear to be changing.

A Reuters report quotes from a Peña Nieto interview with the Spanish newspaper El País. In it, Peña Nieto refers to marijuana legalization as a "growing phenomenon" and calls current prohibitive approaches as "failed policy" since they've been in place for thirty to forty years without causing the consumption or production of drugs to decrease.

Enrique Peña Nieto during a Univision appearance.
As such, he argued that Mexico's drug laws need to be reviewed -- although he stopped short of calling for pot bans to be immediately rescinded.

"I repeat, I'm not in favor of legalization," he told the paper. "This is a personal conviction. But we can't continue on this road of inconsistency between the legalization we've had in some places, particularly in the most important consumer market, the United States, and in Mexico, where we continue to criminalize production of marijuana."

The chief locales for "inconsistency" in the U.S. are Colorado and Washington, where voters have sanctioned the limited sale of cannabis for recreational purposes to adults ages 21 and over. To Neill Franklin, executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), Peña Nieto's comments mark a logical next step in doing away with bans altogether.

Neill Franklin.
"Mexico looks to legalization efforts in Colorado and elsewhere and sees cartels losing power and income, crime rates falling, tax revenues rising and law enforcement better able to focus on violent crime," Franklin writes via e-mail. "How can we then ask them to maintain a policy responsible for 10,000 deaths a year in their country?"

Similar questions about being asked by Fernando Belaunzaran, a congressman with the left-wing opposition Party of the Democratic Revolution. In comments to Reuters, he argues that the liberalization of U.S. pot laws "looked irreversible" despite marijuana's continued illegality at the federal level. He adds that should California legalize cannabis in 2016, "maintaining the ban in Mexico won't be sustainable."

Franklin agrees. "As this policy progresses," he notes, "more states and foreign countries are going to be following the lead of Colorado and Washington, and if the federal government fails to act on a national level, it will be left behind."

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

More from our Marijuana archive circa December 2013: "Marijuana: California advocates consider best ways to follow Colorado's legalization lead."

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Greg Jabuki DeRuckus
Greg Jabuki DeRuckus

I honestly don't think it matters one way or the other if they aren't going to manage it in a way to eliminate the black market and provide real education, substance use education, and treatment for people with substance abuse. Some how in mexico's case i see this more as a way of not dealing with the issue rather then actually improving anything. After all I'm pretty sure most of the profit from Mexican weed still comes from the US. Then again perhaps mexico will show what can really be done when you embrace the hemp industry.

Bryan Moberg
Bryan Moberg

they should, marijauna sales are the reason for the vast majority of the cartel violence in mexico. If they legalize it, the cartels are just farmers and their product is no longer worth killing over.

RobertChase topcommenter

The so-called "land of the free" now imprisons more people than any other.  Our incredible hypocrisy makes us a laughingstock.  We should pay reparations to Mexico for the 60,000+ deaths attributable to our insane war against a harmless, mildly euphoriant plant and our own People.


the greatest plant in the universe is almost free, LET FREEDOM RING! 13

ENLIGHTENMENT...i was a brainwashed evil, mean, christian conservative until i tried it at 17 years old...i hated gays, immigrants, women's rights, blacks, marijuana, i was Rush Limbaugh's #1 fan....until i smoked marijuana....changed the world

1000s of my friends and family have grown 30-99 plants for 20 years, thanks for keeping prices high and NORCAL wealthy...#1 crop in cali = $15 Billion Untaxed...

"any doctor against marijuana is a doctor of death" - cali secret 420

from 0 states to half the country, from low 20% approval to almost 70%, cali runs this planet by 2 decades, time to tie marijuana to the 2014, 2016 elections, out with the old, in with the new

20 years behind us southern states and NEW YORK, sad and scary....nobody denies freedoms like the south, nobody…the top ten incarcerators on the planet are southern states and more blacks are in prison then were slaves before the civil war...even if marijuana reforms did pass the republiCANTS in charge would deny you all your freedoms, centuries of matter though, we never planned on getting your backwards brethren from day one, half the country already but not one southern state, lol...not 1….the new generations are taking over in the south and they are nothing like their freedom denying parents, let’s ride…

Deaths by Alcohol: Millions
Deaths by Tobacco: Millions
Deaths by Prescription Drugs: Quadrupled in last decade
Deaths by Guns: Millions
Deaths by the food we are fed: Millions
Deaths by Marijuana: 0, ever...they are killing my American family while denying freedom

love and freedom forever



 Typical American arrogance, always thinking the U.S. leads the world. Mexico decriminalized all drugs, so did Ecuador, Costa Rica and Portugal. Argentina courts declared prosecuting citizens for small amounts of drugs was unconstitutional, and Uruguay never criminalized personal use/possession of any drugs to begin with. 

Colorado drug laws are inhumane compared to Mexico, maybe we should follow their lead. Selling small amounts of weed is nice, but Holland has been doing that for a long time. All we do is tax the shit out of it and pretend we started a revolution. 

Hot.Sauce topcommenter

Legalize Mexican pot in the USA.

RobertChase topcommenter

Do bear in mind that the United States has pressured Mexico to act against cannabis for decades -- we have a large burden of responsibility for the misery and death caused by our drug war.

RobertChase topcommenter

@sweetcookies3333 No it's not.  Here in Colorado, the felonies for cannabis range all the way up to Class 1 in severity (like premediated murder) -- our Governor is largely responsible.


@Monkey It is a sad truth about Mexico that most people there have no inkling that all drugs for personal use have already been legalized years ago (That means ALL drugs i.e. heroin, LSD, meth, cocaine). Most Mexican city dwellers live in fear of a drug bust and think cannabis---even small amounts--is illegal. Go to Mexico and ask around. No one believes they are allowed to consume anything but booze and cigs. And Nieto isn't about to tell them the truth. At least he never did before.

RobertChase topcommenter

@sweetcookies3333 To clarify:  I do not agree that "the greatest plant in the universe is almost free", but I very much agree that we should end Prohibition now.

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