Jalisco Governor Aristoteles Sandoval has come out firmly in favor of the decriminalization of marijuana, arguing that prohibiting the drug has led to more problems than resolutions.
The announcement was made at the fourth National Debate on the Use of Marijuana, held at the Fiesta Americana Hotel in Guadalajara.
“The government of Jalisco says loud and clear: ‘yes’ to the decriminalization of marijuana use, ‘yes’ to respecting freedom of choice,” Sandoval said. “A prohibitionist policy translates into increased consumption, and creates financial rewards for our most evil of enemies: organized crime.”
This was a historic announcement from the governor of one of Mexico’s most conservative states and represents a significant softening of the state’s official line on marijuana.
Even President Enrique Pena Nieto has presented himself as being newly open to the debate, despite personally opposing legalization. It was under his initiative that five public forums were held across the country, including this one in Jalisco. The president has even said that the outcome of the debate will have a direct impact on drug policy.
During his address, Sandoval argued that people’s lives cannot be subject to the laws governing clandestine drug markets. He said that if the production, sale and distribution of marijuana was governed by state laws, the authorities would be able to regulate consumption and could save funds to use in the prevention and treatment of addictions. “The drug problem is not just a criminal issue but is primarily a health issue,” Sandoval said. “We must take this opportunity and educate ourselves about what the consumption of this drug implies. We can restore confidence in our institutions.”