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Mexican minister suggests legalizing marijuana in tourist spots

Mexico City, Mexico | AFP | Mexico’s tourism minister Thursday proposed legalizing recreational marijuana use in Baja California Sur and Quintana Roo, two of the country’s most popular states for tourists.

Enrique de la Madrid told journalists in Mexico City it is “absurd” that Mexico, which approved the scientific and medical use of marijuana last year, has not already taken such a step.

“I would like to see it happen in Baja California Sur and Quintana Roo, two primary destinations that do not have to be victims of violence,” the official said.

He told journalists that such a move could help curb violence in the tourist hotspots and improve their image abroad.

“Sometimes we should do certain things differently, as they have done in the United States,” he added, referencing California’s legalization of recreational marijuana, which remains illegal under US federal law.

Organized crime-related violence has risen dramatically in Baja California Sur, home to resorts popular with Americans, Canadians and Europeans, as the powerful Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation cartels fight over drug trafficking routes to the US, as well as over spots to sell drugs to tourists in Mexico itself.

Mexico is one of the hardest-hit countries when it comes to drug-related violence, with a record 25,339 murders in 2017, according to official figures.

Experts estimate a significant portion of these were related to organized crime, given that they occurred in states with drug cartel presence such as Guerrero in the southwest and Veracruz in the east.

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