Latin American leaders fear marijuana vote repercussions

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MEXICO CITY -- A group of Latin American leaders declared Mondaythat votes by two U.S. states to legalize marijuana have negative implications for efforts to quash drug smuggling, offering the first government reaction from a region increasingly frustrated with the U.S.-backed war on drugs.

The declaration by the leaders of Mexico, Belize, Honduras and Costa Rica did not explicitly say they were considering weakening their governments' efforts against marijuana smuggling, but it strongly implied the votes last week in Colorado and Washington would make enforcement of marijuana bans more difficult.

The four called for the Organization of American States to study the impact of the Colorado and Washington votes and said the UN General Assembly should hold a special session on the prohibition of drugs by 2015 at the latest.

"It has become necessary to analyze in depth the implications for public policy and health in our nations emerging from the state and local moves to allow the legal production, consumption and distribution of marijuana in some countries of our continent," Mexican President Felipe Calderon said.

Mexico has seen tens of thousands of people killed over the last six years during a militarized government campaign against the country's drug cartels.

President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto has promised to shift Mexico's focus to preventing violence against ordinary citizens, although he says he intends to keep battling cartels and is opposed to drug legalization. Guatemala's president has advocated the international legalization of drugs.

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