In 2017, Mexico experienced its deadliest year in its modern history. The high levels of violence came from an internal fight between drug trafficking groups and the authorities. To some observers, this condition demonstrates that the nation needs to legalize the medical and recreational consumption of illegal drugs such as marijuana. However, Mexico’s historical experience with these type of policies shows that the legalization of these narcotics is impossible.
The Mexican government legalized the medical administration of illegal drugs to users on February 17, 1940. Encino Froylan describes this historical event in his book, Nuestra Historica Narcotica: Pasajes para (re)legalized las Drogas en Mexico. According to Encino, Mexican president Lazaro Cardenas established this policy to eradicate a growing public health issue, but also to eliminate drug trafficking. The measure produced positive results and Mexican journalists commented that this policy was moving drug dealers out of their markets. However, the Cardenas administration removed this reform after a couple of months.
Encino argues that the Mexican government was being pressured by the United States. During this period, the Second World War disrupted the production of medical supplies. The American government used this excused to force the Mexican authorities to eliminate its drug policy with the threat of blockading its access to medical supplies.
The historical event mentioned above needs to be taken into consideration before adopting a legalization policy in Mexico again. This incident demonstrates that the United States government will not tolerate a change in drug policy. In part because the American authorities have supported the militarization of anti-narcotic policies in Mexico since the 1980s. A sudden change in this policy could initiate an indirect confrontation. Also, there are several American corporations that benefit from supporting drug policies in Latin American nations such as Mexico. To the point that experts and scholars have argued that anti-narcotic operations in this region only benefit the economic interests of American investors.
Thus, Mexico is incapable of changing its drug policy due to its ties with the United States. This relationship forces the Mexican government to continue with its militarization of anti-narcotic operations. Even though these actions have not reduced the levels of violence or drug production.
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