Could Certified Acapulco Gold Make Mexico Proud?
November 21, 2012

In a recent column in the left-leaning Mexican daily La Jornada, Columbia University anthropology professor Claudio Lomnitz ponders a future where Mexico’s marijuana is a source of national pride.

He argues the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington state is likely the beginning of a trend in the United States. Mexico should respond by legalizing the drug as soon as possible. Besides constituting as a first step toward ending drug violence, he writes, there’s potential to reap economic benefit from the drug’s historical and cultural place in the country.

Kind of like French wine.

Though cannabis is native to Asia, the name “marijuana” or “marihuana” comes from Mexican-Spanish. Lomnitz suggests Mexico could claim the right to call its crop the official “marijuana,” while pot grown in, for example, Colorado, would have to settle for a label like “weed."

Further, Lomnitz sees advertising potential in capitalizing on the cultural icons associated with pot smoking, like the Beat poets and the Festival de Avándaro (considered Mexico’s Woodstock).

He concludes (translated from the Spanish):

It’s important to recognize that we’re genuinely faced with an opportunity —a situation that will allow us to reduce and rethink the problem of drug trafficking, foment artisan [production] and hi-tech agriculture, and enter the North American market with a product that has had such an important and negated tradition in the search for peace and love, and whose meaning has been perverted to the degree that today it only represents blood and prison. We’re so used to the bad news that sometimes we don’t know how to take advantage of the good news. This is good news. We can’t let it pass without decidedly joining a movement that has real possibilities for transformation.

Outgoing Mexican president Felipe Calderón and other Latin American leaders have called for a re-evaluation of international drug policy following the pro-marijuana votes in Colorado and Washington state.

Mexican president-elect Enrique Peña Nieto has said the same thing, though it's not clear whether the topic came up during his recent meeting with President Obama.