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U.S. Pot Legalization Should Be Discussed: Mexican Ambassador

First Posted: 05/14/09 06:12 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 02:15 PM ET

Pot

As the bodies pile up on the Mexican battlefield, where rival drug cartels war against each other and the Mexican military, the government there is increasingly looking for an exit strategy.

Contrary to their public image, a major source of revenue for the cartels comes from the marijuana trade. Precise numbers are obviously hard to come by, but some U.S. government drug policy officials estimate that more than half of drug cartel revenue comes from the pot business -- meaning it may be more accurate to refer to them as "marijuana cartels."

Taking pot revenue away from the cartels could significantly weaken them, leading some leading Mexican officials to suggest legalizing and regulating the trade. The Mexican ambassador to the United States, Arturo Sarukhan, became the latest on Sunday to call for the United States to seriously consider legalizing its appetite for marijuana.

"This is a debate that needs to be taken seriously, that we have to engage in on both sides of the border: both in producing, in trafficking, and in consumption countries," Sarukhan said on CBS's "Face the Nation" Sunday, when asked about legalization.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently made international news by finally admitting that U.S. demand for drugs fuels violence south of its border. Earlier, former Colombian President Cesar Gaviria, former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso and former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo all joined together to push blame for the drug war on the United States.

Ryan Grim is the author of This Is Your Country On Drugs: The Secret History of Getting High in America.

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