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Students say drug legalization in Mexico could have pros, cons

Photo illustration by MELISSA HALTERMAN/Arizona Daily Wildcat
A supporter of the Mexico City Attorney General's proposal that Mexico gradually legalize drugs, including marijuana, rolls a marijuana cigarette in his living room.
By Greg Holt
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, November 26, 2003
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The international trend toward the decriminalization of drugs has begun to take root in Mexico, and many UA students have said they support the movement.

A little over a week ago, Mexico City Attorney General Bernardo Batiz stated publicly that he believes Mexico should consider a gradual legalization of drugs in order to reduce the influence and power of drug traffickers, according to The Associated Press.

"Drugs are big business because they're prohibited, and there are a lot of addicts," Batiz said. "If you give addicts what they need, together with treatment, the market prices will fall and trafficking will decline."

Batiz's statements have made headlines largely because his boss, Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, is seen as the leading contender in the 2006 presidential race in Mexico.

If Lopez Obrador were to win, it would be in his power to change Mexico's drug policy.

Some UA students are enthusiastic about the possibility of drugs becoming legal within an hour's drive of Tucson.

"I'd be for Mexico legalizing marijuana, it would take a lot of stress off me when I go down there," said Danny Aceto, a communication senior. "Further down the road, if Mexico and Canada are doing this, then the U.S. might follow."

Lindsay Blaum, a senior majoring in English, said she supports the legalization of marijuana in Mexico as well as the U.S.

"I think it's okay to legalize pot, but I don't think they should legalize all drugs. But there is a lot of wasted resources spent on stopping pot at the border," Blaum said. "It would be fun to go down there and be able to smoke it and not have to worry about it."

Summer Majchrzak, a graduate student in history, supports drug legalization, but worries about damage caused by the American tourists such legalization would attract.

"I think it's good, but (Mexico) might become a destination for drug tourism, and the Mexican economy is already too based around tourism. Already a lot of students go there because you can drink when you're 18, and that causes problems," Majchrzak said. "Although I think a lot of people who smoke are smarter than those who drank a lot."

Other students are more skeptical of the plan, taking into consideration safety and politics.

Elisa Travalio, pre-business freshman, said she fears legalization of drugs in Mexico would lead to traffic accidents caused by intoxicated students along the Nogales Highway.

"A lot of students would drive up from Mexico high if you can go down and get it so easily," Travalio said. "Probably more students would do drugs, and there would be more drug problems."

Greg Reiter, a graduate student in creative non-fiction, doesn't see how legalization of drugs in Mexico benefits those who use drugs in the U.S.

"Most (drugs) are easy to get here. If people did go down there to get drugs, they'd still get stopped at the border. And it's not going to stop trafficking, so long as drugs are illegal here," Reiter said.

Creative writing sophomore Allegra Frazier said she doubts that drug legalization in Mexico will lead to increased drug tolerance this side of the border.

"If we are going to be absolutely intolerant of drugs here, it will cause a lot of problems. You can tell we'll be intolerant because we are so intolerant of underage drinking," Frazier said.

Scott Desposato, UA associate professor of political science, said he thinks that U.S. influence over Mexico will prevent drug legalization in the near future.

"I think it's extremely unlikely because of U.S. pressure," Desposato said. "Everyone knows legalization of drugs would take power away from cartels in Mexico, and in Columbia and Afghanistan for that matter. But I doubt the U.S. would allow it."

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