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Mexico, Canada, and Ten American States Look Toward Marijuana Legalization


A ballot measure to legalize marijuana in Ohio failed this week, although as Mark Thornton notes, it was really just a scheme to give a government agency a cronyist monopoly on cannabis sales.

But, as Steven Marlbrough says, "Forget Ohio!" There are ten other states with active legalization movements including Nevada, California, Massachusetts, Michigan, Arizona, Vermont, Maine, Florida, Missouri and Rhode Island. California is the big prize here since legalization would make the entire west coast a legal-cannabis zone. It's not hard to imaging that in ten years or so, one will be able to drive from Denver to San Diego, or from Denver to Seattle, without having to worry about the cannabis in one's glove box. (Cannabis users in the West will likely have to drive around Utah until the end of time.)

But it's not just the US where the tide is turning in the war on marijuana. The newly elected government in Canada has pledged to legalize marijuana.

And, in a new development in Mexico, the national government's Supreme Court has "opened the door" to legalizing marijuana. According to Reuters:

Ruling on a case first brought in 2013 by an advocacy group that health regulators stopped from growing plants for private consumption, the court voted 4-1 that prohibiting people from cultivating the drug for personal use was unconstitutional.

If Mexico proceeds in the direction of legalization, it would be following a larger trend in Latin America, as noted by the NYT:

Uruguay enacted a law in 2013 to legalize marijuana, though the creation of a legal marijuana industry in the small country has unfolded slowly. Chile gathered its first harvest of medical marijuana this year. In Brazil, the Supreme Court recently debated the decriminalization of marijuana, cocaine and other drugs. Bolivia allows traditional uses of coca, the plant used to make cocaine.

Of course, much of the Drug War in the Americas has long been a product of pressure from the US, but state-level nullification efforts in the US within Colorado, Oregon, Washington State, and Alaska, have weakened the US's ability to insist on prohibition from foreign states.

In spite of these numerous national and local movements, old-school drug warriors continue to be helped by UN collaboration in the form of the UN's 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs which essentially legitimizes US Drug War efforts in international law. However, in addition to all these other efforts at legalization, Ireland has now declared that it will pursue decriminalization, not just of marijuana, but also cocaine and heroin. In response, Mark Thornton says "I expect the United Nations to issue new guidelines regarding the war on drugs."



Contact Ryan McMaken

Ryan McMaken (@ryanmcmaken) is a senior editor at the Mises Institute. Send him your article submissions for the Mises Wire and Power and Market, but read article guidelines first. Ryan has a bachelor's degree in economics and a master's degree in public policy and international relations from the University of Colorado. He was a housing economist for the State of Colorado. He is the author of Breaking Away: The Case of Secession, Radical Decentralization, and Smaller Polities and Commie Cowboys: The Bourgeoisie and the Nation-State in the Western Genre.