What’s another word for the war on drugs? Unsustainable. That’s the word the president of Mexico used recently to describe the longstanding drug prohibition policy of his country. Which is about to change, if he gets his way. By law, the administration must present its National Development Plan to Congress, which President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) did last week.
In his National Development Plan for 2019-2024, the president called for a major shift in current drug policy. Citing the devastating failure of the ongoing drug war, he points out that it has been “extremely costly” in two ways. It has cost in government resources and in human life. Worse yet, it has been entirely ineffective.
His proposal advocates for decriminalizing illegal drugs and using those government resources in a more positive manner. Calling the drug war a “public safety crisis”, the president would like to see funds normally used by law enforcement instead go to treatment programs.
AMLO’s plan is radical by most standards, at least traditionally. It certainly contrasts greatly with current U.S. policy. However, while reforming antiquated drug laws internationally has been slow, we have seen some progress. Even in the United States, similar steps are being taken at the state level.
Drug Reform on the International Stage
Needless to say, a policy shift like this affects more than the homeland. Mexico must work with its neighbor to the north as well as the international community at large to ensure a successful way forward. Officially, this means working through the United Nations. Beyond that, drug reform organizations praise this sort of language but caution that it must be followed by action.
The degree and speed of any change is difficult to predict but change, in some measure, is inevitable. Even now, Mexican lawmakers are fashioning new legislation to comply with recent Supreme Court rulings regarding cannabis prohibition. Medical and recreational use of marijuana are receiving increasing attention by lawmakers around the globe and Mexico is no exception.How the U.S. would respond to AMLO's plan remains to be seen. Globally...it's clear the conversation around drugs has shifted. Countries from Uruguay to South Africa to Georgia to Thailand have been reforming their drug laws. Click To Tweet
“Canada became the first major major economic power to legalize and regulate the sale of recreational cannabis last year. With Canada’s decision to legalize and Mexico pushing to decriminalize all drugs, the U.S. may soon find itself isolated by its neighbors when it comes to drug policy. Although 10 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized recreational marijuana, and more than 30 have legalized some form of cannabis for medicinal use, it remains classified as a Schedule 1 illegal drug by the federal government…
“How the U.S. would respond to AMLO’s plan remains to be seen. Globally, however, it’s clear the conversation around drugs has shifted. Countries from Uruguay to South Africa to Georgia to Thailand have been reforming their drug laws, specifically when it comes to cannabis. Meanwhile, momentum has increased in the past few years within the U.S. as state after state has pushed through medical or recreational marijuana legalization.”