While more and more American states legalize cannabis use, people in the neighboring countries are becoming increasingly enthusiastic about weed policies in their regions. However, in most Latin American countries, using, cultivating, and trafficking marijuana remains illegal.
According to a recent study published in the International Journal of Drug Policy, in some parts of Latin America, the number of respondents supporting the herb’s legalization reaches up to 40% of the population. However, some conservative regions still show minimal support.
Andres Mendiburo-Seguel, one of the study’s main authors, believes that Latin American countries are rejecting their conservative drug policy because of its inefficiency. Although most South American countries support easing cannabis-related laws, there are still some differences of opinion that can have a significant impact on future policies adopted in the region, according to the interview of Mendiburo Seguel in Scientific American.
In Uruguay, which has already developed a legal cannabis market, 68% of respondents support the legalization of recreational marijuana. It is followed by Mexico, where 57% are in favor, and Costa Rica, where the number of supporters is also high (about 55%).
Mexico has also been loosening marijuana restrictions. The country’s Senate has recently approved the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. The bill is currently being considered in the Mexican lower house of the legislature.
However, other Latin American countries demonstrate a smaller amount of support for recreational cannabis use. In Peru, 44% of respondents approve the legalization, followed by only 31% in El Salvador and 30% in Bolivia.
The respondents in Colombia, Argentina, and Peru occupy the middle ground when it comes to the question of drug policies.
On one hand, the authors of the study say there is a correlation between the level of human development and the attitudes toward cannabis legalization in a certain country. On the other hand, some researchers are sure that those sentiments could also be under the impact of the current public drug policies in the country.
The study also showed that on average—with the exception of Peru, Bolivia, and El Salvador—most people found that tobacco and alcohol posed greater risks than cannabis.