Last week CuPIHD, along with other Latin American organizations and political representatives, attended the International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Denver, Colorado.
As you might imagine, this conference was strongly influenced by the recent legislative changes on marijuana in Colorado, one of the first two states to approve the regulation of cannabis for recreational purposes (as well as already having a system of medical cannabis).
Amid much celebration, encouraged partly by the Obama Administration's decision not to hinder the regulation, provided certain minimum conditions are met, the conference also addressed many other unresolved issues on drug policy, not only in the United States but also in the rest of the world. Topics included mass incarceration, alternative treatments methods, risk and harm reduction, violence, international experiences and innovations and the future of science in drugs.
The issue of marijuana, however , dominated the week. During this same time, a Gallup poll of US citizens found that support for regulation of marijuana has become an irreversible trend, having now reached a 58% approval rating. This represents an all-time high for approval of marijuana regulation.
Many of those who attended were able to see how the U.S. has created a system of mass production and diversification of cannabis products, in addition to better understanding the marijuana regulatory system. All different types of consumer products and mechanisms have been the protagonists of this revolution. Edibles, concentrated oils and electric vaporizers seem to be the choice of the future and there is an eager industry that wants to offer alternatives to the traditional smoking of the plant.
For these reasons, it is somewhat disappointing to see how Mexican society insists on wasting time trying to deny or postpone the inevitable reforms to our own system of drug control, particularly regarding marijuana regulation, which is the most commonly used illegal substance in Mexico. It is no longer a question of whether it is desirable or undesirable, but rather ,when and how we should deal with it.
Attendees included several Mexican legislators from a diverse political spectrum. Each of them could see the development of economic and cultural activities, even if it was very U.S.-centric, that is becoming an increasingly common reality in all parts of world. This reality in Colorado clearly offers an alternative to the war on drugs.
We expect these legislators, following their experiences at this conference, to transcend the commonplace public debate on drugs and begin to propose a deeper and more articulated reform that protects public health as well as the rights of all in Mexico. In the U.S., our most influential neighbor, the issue has moved from debate to action. How much longer will we have to wait to rid Mexico of its pathological immobility and well-worn ideological formulas? Until that happens, the drug using population will be continue to be stigmatized and criminalized, although they have the same rights as other. Even worse, organized crime will continue to have full control of the market, as we spend scarece resources on fighting them.
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