The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Bruce Mirken, MPP director of communications
415-585-6404 or 202-215-4205

Obama in Mexico: Marijuana on the Agenda?

In Possible Rebuke to Obama, Mexico's Ambassador Said an End to Marijuana Prohibition 'Needs to Be Taken Seriously'


With President Obama leaving for talks with Mexican President Felipe Calderon on Thursday, marijuana policy reformers are wondering if the role of U.S. marijuana laws in subsidizing vicious Mexican drug gangs will get the serious attention that Mexico's ambassador to the U.S. recently said it deserves. Obama's visit comes immediately after Mexico's Congress held a historic debate on ending marijuana prohibition.

"In his only public statement on the issue since taking office, President Obama treated the question of ending marijuana prohibition as a joke, but the families of the 7,000 murdered by Mexican drug gangs know it's not funny," said Marijuana Policy Project executive director Rob Kampia. "By refusing to bring the massive marijuana industry out of the shadows and regulate it as we do beer, wine and liquor, we've handed a massive subsidy to some of the most brutal thugs on the planet."

In an April 12 discussion of Mexico's brutal drug cartels on CBS's "Face the Nation," Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan was asked by host Bob Schieffer, "What if marijuana were legalized? Would that change this situation?"

Rather than dismissing the idea as President Obama did in his recent online town hall meeting, Sarukhan said, "This is a debate that needs to be taken seriously, that we have to engage in on both sides of the border."

"Ambassador Sarukhan got it exactly right," said MPP director of government relations Aaron Houston. "The public in both countries is ready for a serious discussion about the marijuana laws that are directly aiding the murderous gangs that are killing people daily and now operate in 230 U.S. cities. It's time for Presidents Obama and Calderon to show the sort of decisive leadership that's needed to get both of our countries out of this mess."

The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) is the number one organization in the U.S. legalizing cannabis. We passed 13 medical cannabis laws in the past 15 years, and we ran winning campaigns in eight of the 11 legalization states. No organization in the movement has changed as many cannabis laws, impacted as many patients and consumers, created as many new markets, or done more to end cannabis prohibition in the U.S. than MPP.