Feedback
News

In Latin America, U.S. policies fuel push to legalize pot

Image: Scenes of growing, clipping and tending in the marijuana growing facility in the River Rock Colorado marijuana dispensary in Denver, Colorado

Scenes of growing, clipping and tending in the marijuana growing facility in the River Rock Colorado marijuana dispensary in Denver, Colorado on Jan. 23, 2014. As Colorado leads the United States into unchartered territory by legalizing marijuana sales and creating laws as of January 1, 2014 that defy the federal laws against pot, this state has become a test case for the nation. Even before the new law came into effect, the issue of burglaries and breakins to pot dispensaries and grow houses was an issue, but since January 1st of this year the problem as worsened. This story looks at pot culture and the challenge of security around the newly legalized recreational and medical marijuana industry in the state of Colorado. Ed Kashi / VII

From the Americas to Europe to North Africa and beyond, the marijuana legalization movement is gaining unprecedented traction - a nod to efforts in Colorado, Washington state and Uruguay, which in December became the first country to approve nationwide pot legalization.

In Mexico City lawmakers have proposed a brand new plan to let stores sell the drug.

In October, lawmakers from Uruguay, Mexico and Canada converged on Colorado for a firsthand look at how that state's law is being implemented. They toured a medical marijuana dispensary and sniffed bar-coded marijuana plants as the dispensary's owner gave them a tour.

"Mexico has outlets like that, but guarded by armed men," Mexican Congressman René Fujiwara Montelongo said afterward.

There's no general push to legalize marijuana in Mexico, where tens of thousands have died in cartel violence in recent years. But in liberal Mexico City, legislators on Thursday introduced a measure to let stores sell up to 5 grams of pot. It's supported by the mayor but could set up a fight with the conservative federal government.

"Rather than continue fighting a war that makes no sense, now we are joining a cutting-edge process," said Jorge Castaneda, a former Mexican foreign minister.

In Latin America and the Caribbean there is still significant public opposition to further legalization. But top officials are realizing that it is nevertheless on the table.

Current or former presidents in Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala and Brazil have called for a re-evaluation of or end to the drug war, a chorus echoed by Argentina's drug czar, Juan Carlos Molina, a Roman Catholic priest who has long served in the nation's drug-wasted slums.

-Reporting by the Associated Press