I haven’t found anything in the American press as incisive on the issue as this Guardian analysis of Mexico’s and Argentina’s decriminalization of recreational drugs for personal use in relation to our very own war on (some) drugs. it suggests that decriminalization’s consequences for both governments and nonusers may not be pretty in the short run. The move toward legalization in Mexico will free up prison space for many more violent cartel soldiers, whose numbers may continue to rise so long as demand remains high in El Norte. And crime statistics indicate that Mexico is not Holland, and Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana are not Amsterdam, as much we might wish they were. (Buenos Aires, on the other hand…)
Brazil, Bolivia, and Venezuela are all likely future decriminalizers. And if the trend continues, and marijuana is eventually legalized in the U.S., a million fewer people will be incarcerated each year. Until then, the drug war may continue to heat up in Mexican and U.S. border towns as consumers take advantage of localized narcotourism.
But they remain wary in Tijuana. Before the drug war, this border city was a capital of vice tourism, which has now disappeared. Tijuana lies opposite San Diego, from where most of those seeking prostitutes and other distractions came, and where a letter recently appeared in the local Union Tribune newspaper from Omar Firestone, principal cellist in the Orquesta de Baja California. He warned that the last thing the city needs is “offering sanctuary to American druggies” who will “draw the worst of our society to the streets of Tijuana and increase the flight of those seeking a better life. I guess the cartels needed a government bailout.”