Thursday, August 5, 2010

Problems with the Legalization Debate

Yesterday, El Universal ran a note, which accompanied the story about Calderón's call for debate on drug legalization, on the US's enduring rejection of just such a debate, which has been reaffirmed by federal officials from right and left time and time again over the course of various generations. One thing I haven't seen mentioned is that as far as we can tell, there isn't much appetite for legalization among Mexicans themselves. According to a 2009 Mitofsky poll, 77.7 percent are opposed to the measure, while 18 percent are in favor. Those numbers have also been trending away from legalization in recent Mitofsky polls. For legalization advocates, this makes the debate all the more important: a chunk of that 77.7 percent might swing if it saw a forceful case for the relative harmlessness of marijuana, a proposal that would keep it out of the hands of kids, and a sketch of how it would reduce the power of organized crime. But as things stand now, you can't really talk about legalization in a democratic country where four out of five people are opposed to it.

It's also odd how Mexico is presently the inverse of the US on this issue. In the former nation, you have a conservative leader encouraging a reluctant populace to consider legalization, while in the latter, you have an ostensibly liberal government (not on this issue, however) wanting no part of a legalization debate despite the fact that close to half the country wants pot to be legal.


malcolm said...

do you think Calderon is actually encouraging legalization? The way I see it, and from the comments that i've seen of his this week, he's simply endorsing the idea of debating it – in that time-testing mexican way of letting everyone have their say and then doing what he intended to do in the first place. His administration is strongly against legalization, and I can't imagine them backing away from that.

pc said...

No I don't think he's endorsing legalization, but I do wonder if in his private moments he's in favor. But I think calling for a debate goes a lot further than anything you'd see from a US president. If Obama made the same call as Calderón, despite coming from a nation with more liberal views about marijuana use, he'd be getting burned on Fox news and the like for weeks. Here, the reaction was pretty even-handed.