May 4 - Cannabis advocates and users march through Mexico City openly smoking marijuana and demanding the decriminalization of the drug as Mexico struggles to deal with escalating drug gang violence. Lindsey Parietti reports.
Thousands in Mexico light up for legalized marijuana. Puffs of smoke rose above the crowd as they marched through Mexico City, calling for legal recreational and medicinal use of the drug. While many appeared to enjoy the 13th annual Global Marijuana March, the event also highlights Mexico's growing drug problems. An estimated 70,000 people have died in drug-related violence as gangs battle for their share of the billion-dollar illicit industry. The president of the Mexican Association for Cannabis Studies says regulating the market for marijuana would take control away from criminals. The country is a major source and transit route of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and other drugs that reach the U.S. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) ALBERTO SEPULVEDA, MARIJUANA USER SAYING: "Let's stop the hypocrisy. If in the United States there are four states ... where they are allowed to use it legally for recreational purposes we can't be penalized and kill each other here for the herb while in the United States they are smoking and laughing." In April 2009, Mexican lawmakers voted to legalise recreational marijuana, allowing users to carry up to 5 grams of the drug.