State Department To Canada: Go Ahead And Legalize Marijuana, See If We Care

Geoffrey Ingersoll

The Department of State thinks that it’s just fine if Canada and Mexico decide to legalize recreational marijuana.

State Spokesman John Kirby answered a question at a Thursday press briefing about whether the recent federal election in Canada, as well as the Mexican Supreme Court ruling, would impact crime cooperation. The ruling established a constitutional right to recreational marijuana for personal use — for four individuals, leaving the country’s drug laws untouched. (RELATED: Mexican Supreme Court Bucks Authorities In Marijuana Ruling)

“[I]t’s up to the people of each nation to decide policies,” Kirby said. “And in this case, it’s up to the people of Mexico to decide which drug policies are most appropriate for their country within the framework of international law.”

But Kirby emphasized that U.S. law enforcement is still intent on fighting drug trafficking and adhering to the three UN drug conventions. Those drug conventions, however, allow member states are a certain amount of flexibility in how they implement drug regulations.

“The conventions anticipate variations in national legal frameworks,” Kirby added.

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy states on its website that legalization is not an effective way to counter cartels. A report from RAND in 2010 found that marijuana generates just over a fifth of all revenue for cartel operations, that is, around $1.5 billion.

While legalization across more states in the U.S. would make life more difficult for cartels, John Walsh, a senior associate for the Washington Office on Latin America, noted that it would merely shift plans.

“That doesn’t mean they won’t have a business plan, it’s just that marijuana will be removed from it,” Walsh told The New York Times.

On the northern front, Trudeau has promised to implement nationwide legal marijuana “right away.”

“Canada’s current system of marijuana prohibition does not work. It does not prevent young people from using marijuana and too many Canadians end up with criminal records for possessing small amounts of the drug,” the party’s platform states. “To ensure that we keep marijuana out of the hands of children, and the profits out of the hands of criminals, we will legalize, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana.”

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