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Will Latin America Now Legalize Pot?

Latin American leaders believe that legalization in Washington and Colorado may make their own marijuana bans untenable.

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By Valerie Tejeda

11/13/12

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Latin American leaders are weighing up last week's legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington. Many in the region—where drug decriminalization policies have wide support, even among politicians—believe the votes may make their own pot bans untenable. The leaders of Belize, Costa Rica, Mexico and Honduras have called for the Organization of American States to study the impact of the states' votes, and also suggested that the UN General Assembly should debate drug prohibition by 2015. They released a statement that they say is "an important indicator of the desire to engage in a more robust discussion of policy." Mexican leaders in particular question how their country, a major supplier of pot to the US, can now realistically enforce a ban on growing and smuggling marijuana. "It has become necessary to analyze in depth the implications for public policy and health in our nations emerging from the state and local moves to allow the legal production, consumption and distribution of marijuana in some countries of our continent," said Mexico's President Felipe Calderon, after meeting with President Porfirio Lobo of Honduras, President Laura Chinchilla of Costa Rica, and Prime Minister Dean Barrow of Belize. Luis Videgaray, head of Mexican president-elect Pena Nieto's transition team, said, "Obviously we can't handle a product that is illegal in Mexico, trying to stop its transfer to the United States, when in the United States, at least in part of the United States, it now has a different status." The Governor of Chihuahua, a political ally of Pena Nieto, has backed Mexico to become a marijuana exporter in the wake of the states' votes.

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