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How Mexico Court’s Ruling On Marijuana Affects The Drug War

How Mexico Court’s Ruling On Marijuana Affects The Drug War
How Mexico Court’s Ruling On Marijuana Affects The Drug War
How Mexico Court’s Ruling On Marijuana Affects The Drug War GUEST: David Shirk, director, Justice in Mexico Project at University of San Diego

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Fridays at 12:30 right here on KBS -- KPBS Cienega whether to take calls for most cloudy skies -- high around 68°. Tonight, showers possible, this evening as well overnight lows 48 to 57. Tomorrow -- forecast calling for more showers, windy conditions. High 63 to 68°. You're listening to K PBS -- KPBS 89.5 FM San Diego, where news matters. This is KPBS midday edition. I Maureen Cavanaugh. The Mexican Supreme Court took a giant step last night towards legalizing marijuana use pocket on the Mexican band on the production, possession and recreational use of marijuana is unconstitutional. Supporters of the decision. Opens the door toward re-examining Mexico's role in the war against drugs. Set died as drug cartels fight against the government and each other for control of the drug trade. But others point out the ruling will not change the fact that most of marijuana Mexico was destined to cross the border into the US. Joining us is David Chuck. Is director of the justice of Mexico project. At the University of San Diego. David, welcome to the program. Synecdoche for having me protect this ruling does not legalize Erewhon a in Mexico. But what does it do? Is the result a case that was brought by for individuals. Who are basically asking for an injunction. From government prosecution for the growing and selling and distribution of marijuana. The Supreme Court found basically that they were within their rights, that they have a right to distribute their product. And as a result of this, those for individuals essentially are protected. They now have the right. But the other roughly 110 110,000,000 Mexicans, do not have a right. Because of the way that Mexico's legal system works. In which the Supreme Court does not have the ability to set presidents a single decision. It will take either a series of other decisions, also made by the Supreme Court on this matter. Or a legislative act to make this a universal right. Said the Mexican Supreme Court -- ruling is not as definitive as a ruling would be of the US Supreme Court. That's correct. Of the US Supreme Court makes such a ruling, it would apply -- the same right would apply to all US citizens, not just the individuals. In the case that was being presented. Why did the four litigants bring this case forward to the Mexican Supreme Court? Did they hope to change things, or the legality of marijuana in Mexico? Yes I think it's a step. For example we may see other cases of this nature that are filed once the Supreme Court has ruled in a series of cases. That will result in a universal right. So at this point, marijuana legalization advocates are most likely gearing up to bring the next case before the Supreme Court. And the Supreme Court, if it is interested in pushing toward legalization through this means, if the legislator ales to act, it may be considering taking on more more these cases until effectively establishes a widespread legal right. What is the legal status of using marijuana in Mexico? Can you get along jail sentence? Well it depends on the amount that you are found with. If if you're found with five or fewer marijuana cigarette, five or fewer joints in Mexico, the current laws in Mexico deci-federal laws establish that you cannot be arrested. You can be referred however to a drug treatment. It is also true of basically wide range of drugs. You're caught with a small quantity of heroin for example. For drug treatment but not necessarily interested in the size of the amount. So in some ways icicles marijuana and other drug laws are already similar to -- more liberal than here in the United States. If you are found in quantities that are meant for distribution or sale, yes, you can serve just having Mexico. Are there any laws that have legalized the use of medicinal marijuana in Mexico? That's my knowledge. Will let me go to some of the people that we have talked about about this. I do want to press.jump turned journalist Ashi [ Indiscernible ] told us earlier how surprising he found the sort -- court decision was. I'm not really surprised because this is an issue that not many people were aware of this process of the Supreme Court and legal action. I think the public safety advocates more than the promoters of the [ Indiscernible ] per se -- come -- with the marijuana I Are trying to the big message to what we are doing specifically with the so-called war on drugs on the New Mexican site. And they want to open the discussion about what we're doing with this issue. We have a lot of pressure from the unit -- United states that the main problem I see is while the states in the US is utilizing or decriminalizing for recreational use, we are still paying the consequences. And former Mexican President. [ Indiscernible ] Fox believes that legalization of marijuana but says the board would have significant impact on the drug trade. Here is what [ Indiscernible ] has to say. The problem we know comes from drugs. Cartels, servicing the huge market and the states. And that's what they get the power. Because they get 55 55 billion US$55 billion in the US the consumer market. That has brought by -- back to Mexico to control public officials, and for corruption. So I am absolutely for legalization. Unfortunately two states have taken the step -- in the state of Washington, the state of Colorado. And many more will follow. States and governments do not have the right to control and imposed my behavior. We as human beings were born free. And it is our choice to do good or to do that. We need this to be informed. Educated, and in prevention. And things will keep normal. And in the country by all means will disappear to the product of drugs. Do you agree that she Vicente Fox will say violence will disappear. What effect do you think the legalization of marijuana Mexico would have on the drug trade? First we have to conceptualize the drug trade in Mexico. The best available data suggests that will be data from when for example suggest that the side of the drug market in Mexico or should I say the proceeds of the drugs coming from the United States Mexico around 66 -- $67 billion. The Mexican government estimates that higher -- in the US government as high as $40 million. Whatever is that you use that is a very small amount of money when you compare to the overall size of the Mexican [ Indiscernible ] which is 1.4, $1.5 trillion. Of PP. Each year. Said best we're talking about 2 to 3% of Mexico's overall economy. The thing is it is highly concentrated in the hands of a very small number. May be worth 5000 people that work in the drug industry Mexico really just a handful of very wealthy [ Indiscernible ]. So the question is -- much of that same $7 billion -- low-end estimate -- six or seven low-end estimate -- six or $7 billion is attributed to marijuana. The best estimates of jests that probably about a quarter of all the revenues -- maximum comfort marijuana. You take away quarter of any businesses revenue, what they do?'s first of all they start looking a new places to make money. So they will expand their operations and other -- probably other illicit industries like kidnapping and extortion. The other thing they would do of course is laypeople often the people regulate off are not necessarily going to go work at McDonald's. In Michael Ronald McDonald's. But that is not necessarily going to be beneficial. So we will probably see a diversification of organized crime and a slight increase in violent crime. As the marijuana the opportunity for marijuana goes away. Unless we can create other good jobs. ICQ with David Shirkey -- director the justice in Mexico project. University of San Diego. Has Mexican president in Ricci pin yet Joe responded to this Mexican Supreme Court reeling anyway? If he has. First of all I can't remember the exact phrase or statement that he made, it the -- basically agreed that Mexico needs to evaluate the policy and treat its drug policy and focus on the public health aspects of drugs. Ultimately we're dealing with substances that have universal consequence of. And at the same time because of the commercialization of marijuana they also have very significant public security. Consequent this by putting money into the hands of illicit enterprises. Ideally I think people who want to push for legalization would like to separate those two problems. ~Drugs, and drug use. By focusing on those as health problems. And deal with organized crime and criminal acts -- using law enforcement tactics. But as long as drugs are prohibited, effectively, what you're doing is criminalizing a public health problem. Now the government of President. [ Indiscernible ] has gotten a chair of criticism about its crackdown on drug cartels as being overly aggressive. And causing more violence within Mexico. Is it criticism valid? Four and Ricky commando. On the one hand he is criticized for cracking down too hard on drug cartels, on the other hand cart -- drug cartel leaders escape from jail and say he is not cracking down or doing enough. You know I think if you look at the last 10 or 15 years in Mexico, and the strategies we have used to try to fight the war on drugs, I think there is no question that it has been a colossal failure. We have seen an enormous amount of money directed to fighting the war on drugs. We have seen tens of thousands of people die directly as a result of the activities of organized crime threat Mexico. And at the end of the day, we are still importing probably just as much. Of the major drugs consumed in the United States with the possible exception of marijuana. Only because we began to decriminalize here the United States. So I think it really does bear some real consideration of what our policy options are. At the end of the day, it does not seem to be a very effective policy and 75% of Americans in public opinion surveys think that she say they think the war on drugs is the failure. Well over 50%. Posted 60% Americans on some survey say that we should specifically decriminalize marijuana. Not as much support however for decriminalizing crack, heroin, methamphetamines, etc. So unfortunately that's where the bulk of the traffickers make their money really for the foreseeable future. And they will continue to be quite powerful. So we will even if we legalized marijuana tomorrow we will still have a very powerful and dangerous taxes that we have to deal with the Mexico and other places. You reference our war on drugs. In the US and Mexican governments have a joint agreement on pursuing the war on drugs. Is there any sign that there are cracks in that policy or that policy is changing a bit? So first of all for disclosure. The University of San Diego through the program just as a Mexico is a recipient of a grant from the so-called Marinette initiative. We have a $3 million grant to do training in Mexico for attorneys learning how to use oral adversary trials. That said, I think the Meriden initiative has been widely praised and widely criticized. For a number of reasons. It has directed a to Mexico for -- to fight drug traffickers. Including military and law force -- law enforcement a -- and lovely with others supplementing for the violence. And I think when the pity mentor it administration came in they were very concerned about whether they should shoot -- should not cooperate with the American and continue the policies of the mensuration. They ultimately decided that there is a real threat and there is a shared threat -- but the Mexico into the United States and both countries have a shared responsibility. To do something about a. Fortunately I think that terms of the narrative initiative in the better part of the resources that we are directing to Mexico are moving towards Dr. Pro -- program. Afterschool programs for kids, trainings. Because of things. And moving away from assault helicopters and trying to take down the bad guys. What you think or do you think do -- the move to legalize marijuana use in recreational use in the US states may have influenced of the Mexicans ream court decision next You that is quite possible. The people Mexico are very keenly aware of the fact that we have significantly decriminalize drugs in the United States. Both your medical marijuana, actually through merit -- medical marijuana laws. Through the correlation laws in certain states and also just through the decreasing of penalties. Renowned California first-time offense with less than an ounce of marijuana, gets you I think $140 fine. You make a right turn onto stoplight, and roll for a stoplight, you Gillick a $400 fine. So I think that what we have signaled to the rest of the world including Mexico is that we don't -- even in the United States that marijuana is that series of a threat. And that we are in fact ourselves reconsidering our policies of marijuana. In Mexico, David, is there a strong support to legalize marijuana? No. I don't think so. And I think [ Indiscernible ] [ Indiscernible - heavy accent ] is -- referenced just a moment ago, really illustrated that. I think this is a surprise to many Mexicans. And is not necessarily in keeping with the social wars of Mexico. Mexico -- many Mexicans are a small have never used drugs in their lives. I am almost certain that half of Mexicans have never use any drug in her life. A true in the United States. And -- that is not true in the United States. And generally are more conservative culture that we have here in the United States. And so I think for a lot of Mexicans, the idea of allowing for the legalization of marijuana has much more to do with Halifax -- how it affects the security situation in Mexico than any desire for widespread use of marijuana in Mexico. And what you think is going to follow now? After this sort of surprising Mexican Supreme Court decision on -- which opens the door to marijuana legalization? I think we are on a trajectory for full legalization and regulation of marijuana consumption in the United hates. And as a result, in other places around the world. Your gay has already become the first Latin American country to take that step. I would predict that in the next five years, we will certainly see or states take that route within the United States and more countries throughout the region, beginning to take this step towards full-scale recreational legalization of marijuana. And then we will see what the costs of that are. There certainly will be costs in terms of Fidelity's from driving at the influence. And from higher rates of addiction or other kinds of health problems associated with drug use. But at the end of the day will need to do in 10 or 20 years is evaluate the costs of legalization against the cost of the policy. Which I said has not only resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people in Mexico but other Latin American countries and even in the United States, when you look at the incarceration system. When you look at the roughly 2,000,000 men that are currently behind bars in the United States -- a large significant percentage of whom are there because of drug-related arrests. It is important to underscore that 5% of arrests in the United States are marijuana arrest. That is one in 20 arrests. That is a significant amount of law-enforcement time. And 10 or 20 years, [ Indiscernible ] obedience of the house. I will be -- have been speaking with a mature -- director of the project in University of San Diego. Thank you. Thank you.

The Mexico Supreme Court took a giant step toward legalizing marijuana for recreational use when it found the country’s ban on the production, possession and recreational use of marijuana is unconstitutional.

Supporters of last week's decision said it opens the door toward re-examining Mexico's role in the war against drugs. Thousands have died as drug cartels fight against the government and each other for control of the drug trade.

But others point out that the ruling won't change the fact that most of the marijuana in Mexico is destined to cross the border into the U.S.

David Shirk, director of the University of San Diego’s Justice in Mexico, a project that researches and promotes human rights in Mexico, said the Supreme Court ruling only directly affects the four individuals who brought the case.

“These four individuals are now protected,” Shirk told KPBS Midday Edition on Monday. “The other people do not have that right because of the way Mexico’s Supreme Court works. I think it’s a first step.”

But the ruling may compel other distributors or users of marijuana to ask the top court to consider their cases. The federal legislature may also consider changing the law.

As it stands, those who are found with five or fewer marijuana joints are not arrested but are referred to drug treatment centers, Shirk said.