Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, or AMLO for short, is running for president in Mexico’s upcoming July 1st election on a leftist platform of reform and change. On May 8th, at a forum on justice and peace, he said that Mexico should have a debate on legalizing all drugs as part of a solution to the country’s violence problem. Let’s take a look at who Lopez Obrador is and his position on cannabis to see if this frontrunner in the upcoming election could legalize weed in Mexico.
Who is Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO)?
Known as AMLO colloquially in Mexico, Lopez Obrador is the “MORENO” (the National Regeneration Party) candidate, a new, leftist party that he founded in 2012. But AMLO’s political career goes back decades. According to a poll in early April, he is ahead by 22 points, making him the frontrunner for the upcoming election. His platform and party are promising to change Mexico in terms of social reform, corruption, and violence—and the people are listening.
AMLO was the mayor of Mexico City from 2000 to 2005, where he successfully implemented social reform programs like expanding welfare for seniors, as promised. However, he was also criticized for his lack of action on corruption.
An important thing to note is that AMLO has run for president twice before, but with a different political party, the “PRD” (Party of the Democratic Revolution). In 2006, he ran against Felipe Calderon and only lost by a margin of 0.58 percent, which many believe was falsified. The 2006 results caused protests, marches, and street closings in Mexico City for months.
In 2012, AMLO ran against the current president of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto of the “PRI” (Institutional Revolutionary Party) and lost by a wider margin. PRI is a more right-leaning political party that ruled uninterrupted in Mexico for 70 years before 2000.
However, this time many things are working in AMLO’s favor. For one, Peña Nieto’s presidency was riddled with scandal and unpopular reforms, causing many people in the country to be fed up with the PRI, once and for all.
But AMLO’s most unexpected lucky charm might be Donald Trump. Trump has a long history of saying hateful and racist things about Mexicans. Coupled with his threats to NAFTA and insistence on a border wall, Mexicans now have the lowest approval rating of the U.S. in decades. Unintentionally, Trump has been pushing the fed up people of Mexico to the left with his hateful rhetoric, right into the arms of Lopez Obrador.
AMLO is no fool and uses this to his advantage. He is outwardly critical of Trump, and the crowds at his speeches love him for it. At a recent rally in the border town of Ciudad Juarez, near El Paso, Texas, AMLO said to the crowds: “We are going to be very respectful of the U.S. government. But we are going to demand they respect us Mexicans. Neither Mexico nor its people will be treated like a piñata by any foreign government.”
What’s AMLO’s position on cannabis?
Lopez Obrador is definitely open to the idea of legalizing cannabis and, like he said earlier this month, thinks Mexico should debate legalizing all drugs. “Why not try it?” he asked on May 8th.
Rosalba Gonzalez, a medical cannabis patient and advocate in Mexico City, told Herb: “He’s definitely willing to hear out details about cannabis legalization…He’s also the only candidate willing to hear us out in regards to marijuana, while other candidates stand against it.” Other voters in Mexico gave Herb a similar sentiment, that AMLO is the only candidate likely to legalize cannabis in Mexico.
In late 2017, AMLO received a lot of criticism for proposing an even more controversial idea to end drug trafficking and its related violence in Mexico: giving amnesty to drug dealers and drug farmers. Although the media gave him a lot of slack for his comment, it’s not an unfounded idea. A similar proposal worked in Colombia, and now the South American country is better off. Plus, AMLO also wants to stop the problem at its roots by offering more social programs and opportunities to young people. That way, they won’t feel like joining a gang or taking a bribe is the only way to make ends meet.
AMLO also declared recently that he is open to allowing foreign experts to come in to try and help Mexico with its corruption, violence, drug trafficking, and “disappeared” people problems. It’s a major platform of his campaign for good reason, over 200,000 people have died since Felipe Calderon began the War on Drugs that militarized the police in 2006. Last year, Mexico had the highest homicide rate in years, with over 29,000 murders. More than 90 percent of those cases went unsolved.
If AMLO wins, big changes could be coming to Mexico—not just for cannabis. Some are skeptical that the election won’t be “robbed” from him like it was in the past. Other opEds have taken an even darker turn and suggested AMLO could be assassinated, citing the assassination of 1994 candidate, Donaldo Colosio, as proof of its possibility. However, hopefully, the third time’s the charm for AMLO.