The president of Mexico dubbed the drug war "failed policy," and hinted strongly that Mexico, the source of most of America's illegal drugs, could follow the U.S.'s lead on marijuana legalization.
Marijuana prices for cartel-connected farmers have plummeted in recent years as the U.S.'s drug policy becomes more and more lenient. Keeping marijuana illegal in Mexico makes no sense when the plant is legalized north of the border, President Enrique Pena Nieto told Madrid-based newspaper El Pais in an interview published Sunday, according to Reuters.
And as everyone -- including Maureen Dowd -- now knows, marijuana policy is changing rapidly in America, with the drug available for medical use in almost half of the country.
These words are just that: words. But they're the strongest words yet from a sitting Mexican president, whose predecessors have said much the same thing after leaving office.
Marijuana is legal in two American states -- Washington and Colorado. California muffed a chance to be the first state to end marijuana Prohibition in 2010, thanks in large part to interference from the federal government. And at least one leading leftist in Mexico says that as soon as California goes legal, the war on marijuana in Mexico will end.
In Mexico, possession of small quantities of drugs is legal. Trafficking huge quantities to satisfy American demand is not, and a military-style crackdown on cartel activity led to today's state of war between Mexican drug traffickers and the police and military.
This isn't good. It would take a fool to posit otherwise, and Pena Nieto is no fool. Following up on the "failed policy" admission, he added that Mexico can't continue on a "road of inconsistency" with liberalizing drug policy in America.
However, he is also practical.
Others who have come before him have said much the same thing about the efficacy of Mexico's war on drugs. Vicente Fox, who served as president from 2000 to 2006, criss-crossed the United States last year with that message -- one he also delivered in San Francisco in September with a strong addendum: legalize all drugs now.
Pena Nieto does not feel that way. He voiced strong support for keeping marijuana production illegal in Mexico, according to other sources.
Still, hearing the man in charge of Mexico say that it's time to rethink failed policy is a step toward sanity, and possibly fewer panga boats and catapults sending cartel-grown brick weed into the United States.