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Mexico wary of Calif. vote to legalize pot

Sept. 10, 2010 at 10:11 AM   |   Comments

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MEXICO CITY, Sept. 10 (UPI) -- The conflict between U.S. and Mexican officials over marijuana is ratcheting up as California prepares to vote on legalizing recreational use of the weed.

Mexican officials said they are conflicted about marijuana use in the United States, where 14 states, including California, and the District of Columbia allow marijuana use for medical purposes, The Washington Post reported Friday.

"Marijuana arrives in the United States soaked with the blood of Tijuana residents," Tijuana Mayor Jorge Ramos said.

In San Diego alone, more than 100 medical marijuana dispensaries are open, selling a variety of the plant to any adult who paid for a doctor's prescription and willing to shell out $10 for a cigarette, the Post said.

In November, Californians will vote on Proposition 19, a ballot initiative that would legalize recreational consumption of marijuana. The measure would allow local governments to adopt ordinances on commercial marijuana activities, including cultivation, processing, distribution, transportation and retail sales.

Some of Mexico's prominent figures wonder what will happen on their side of the border should California approve the initiative, the Post said. U.S. estimates indicate marijuana smuggling and sales represent a $10 billion business for Mexico's drug cartels

Former Mexican President Vicente Fox recently said marijuana should be legal in his country.

"The sales could be taxed, with high taxes, as we do with tobacco, to be used to fight addiction and reduce consumption," he said.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon hosted three days of meetings in August to debate "the pros and cons" of legalization, the Post said.

"It is worth asking if it still makes any sense to maintain our prohibition against marijuana in Mexico when the United States is taking gradual steps toward legalization," said Jose Luis Astorga, a prominent Mexican drug policy scholar. "Why are we spending our resources on this?"

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