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Opinions split in border city over Mexican court ruling to ease marijuana law
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Opinions split in border city over Mexican court ruling to ease marijuana law

  • A panel of the Mexican Supreme Court ruled in November that individuals have the right to grow marijuana for personal use, but opinions on the move are split in border towns like Ciudad Juarez which long suffered some of the country’s worst drug violence.
    Katie Bieri/Cronkite NewsA panel of the Mexican Supreme Court ruled in November that individuals have the right to grow marijuana for personal use, but opinions on the move are split in border towns like Ciudad Juarez which long suffered some of the country’s worst drug violence.

CIUDAD JUAREZ – When Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled this fall that individuals have the right to grow marijuana for personal use, it did little to resolve the issue in border towns like this one that have long been the scene of bloody drug wars.

Some in this border city, which became a battleground for rival drug cartels fighting for lucrative smuggling routes to the U.S., say they believe decriminalizing marijuana will reduce the violence that has long plagued the area. But others in this city across the border form El Paso, Texas, are not so hopeful, or so sure it is the right move for Mexico.

A panel of Mexico’s Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation ruled 4-1 in November that a group of four plaintiffs had a right to grow and smoke marijuana for recreational use, according to news reports. The ruling applied only to those four, but it opened the door to discussion of the issue.

“Drug trafficking would go down and there would be fewer people involved in violence,” said Raul Parra, a nursing student in Ciudad Juarez.‬‬‬‬

Parra was shot in the leg in 2010 when gunmen attacked a high school birthday party, killing 15 people and injuring 13. Investigators in Mexico said young hitmen mistakenly targeted the party.‬

Many of the victims of the notorious birthday party massacre were student-athletes. The mother of one of them, a football player who was killed at the birthday party, is among those who oppose the effort to decriminalize marijuana.

‪“I don’t think our young people and children are ready for legalizing any type of drug,” said Lupita Davila,, who honors her son Rodrigo’s memory by working with children and teens who survived years of bloodshed.

Those children “were all victims of years of extreme violence,” Davila said.‬‬‬ ‪She and her son’s football coaches started Jaguares Jovenes Por Bien, a nonprofit organization that offers violence-prevention workshops, football clinics and counseling for at-risk youth.‬‬‬

The number of murders has declined sharply in Ciudad Juarez, but the border city is coping with the lingering effects.

Dozens of folders for children who are in need of psychological counseling are stacked on Davila’s desk. Many witnessed violence or lost loved ones.

“They are still passing through a very difficult stage,” Davila said.‬‬‬

‪Parra said he supports Davila’s effort to help youth and has donated his time to the organization. ‬‬But he and others in Mexico are beginning to consider whether it might be time to legalize marijuana in spite of concerns about addiction.

“The same thing happens with alcohol and tobacco,” Parra said. “People who want to use will do so whether it’s legal or not.”

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