A senior official in Mexico’s Interior Secretariat has rejected a proposal that could see the cultivation and possession of marijuana being legalized for recreational use, calling on the government to focus its energies on prevention instead by tackling the organized criminal gangs behind the supply routes of cannabis and other drugs.
Arturo Escobar y Vega, the undersecretary of Civic Prevention and Participation, said the government of Enrique Peña Nieto would leave a political legacy in terms of prevention not legalization.
To underline this point, he indicated that 140 billion pesos (US $8.4 billion) had been spent by the administration on preventative measures, with a budget of 2.6 billion pesos earmarked this year for the National Program for the Prevention of Crime.
Escobar was responding to Supreme Court Justice Arturo Zaldivar, who recommended last week that restrictions on marijuana cultivation and possession should be struck from the General Health law because they are unconstitutional.
His recommendation came in response to a case brought by plaintiffs seeking an injunction against a 2013 ruling by the Federal Commission for Protection Against Sanitary Risks (Cofepris). It had ruled against a request to allow the recreational consumption of marijuana.
Five Supreme Court judges will debate the recommendation and then vote on it. It will require three votes in favor to be approved.
Escobar said liberalization of marijuana would be far worse than otherwise, and suggested Mexico has no wish to turn Joaquín Guzmán, leader of the drug-dealing Sinaloa Cartel, into a businessman by doing so.
Escobar’s appointment as undersecretary has been controversial. The Ecologist Green Party member and former congressional leader was responsible for breaking election rules that earned fines of 600 million pesos during the last election, but also resulted in a better showing at the polls.
In 2009, he was detained at the airport in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, when 1.1 million pesos in cash was found in his baggage. He was the party’s representative on the elections institute at the time, and he was carrying the money the day before the election.
Escobar was released shortly after.
Today, civil organizations called on the Senate to help have him dismissed as undersecretary on the basis that he did not have the moral values necessary for the job.
Their chief concern is that Escobar will have control over more than 2 billion pesos earmarked for crime prevention programs in 2016, and that some of that money will be used for political purposes instead.
Clara Jusidman, president of Incide, an organization that promotes social development, said Escobar symbolizes a political class capable of committing a series of acts that are illegal under electoral law, whose fines are then paid by the public.
The Supreme Court’s vote on the constitutionality of the marijuana laws is expected to take place next Wednesday.
– Source: http://mexiconewsdaily.com/
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