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Mexico's 'Cannabis Libraries' reflect rising drug problem, and changing attitudes

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In the corner of a library situated in a Mexico City park, stands a lonely yellow bookshelf lined with tomes on marijuana, cocaine, pills, psychedelics, and the like.

This nook is known as the Biblioteca Canábica, or the Cannabis Library, and it's an attempt by civil society organizations here to create a go-to place for reliable information about illegal drugs for parents, teachers, teens, and others. It’s also a subtle way of raising the volume on a debate that is growing ever louder in Mexico: whether to legalize drugs.

“We want a healthier relationship with drugs,” says Carlos Zamudio, director of the Cannabis Library project. "[T]he relationship we have now has brought us problems with violence and health. A healthier relationship requires regulating drugs in a different way.”

Apparently Mexican President Felipe Calderón is warming to the idea. Once stridently opposed to legalization, President Calderón has softened his tone on the subject as his six-year term winds down into its final year.

Calderón launched a war on drug traffickers in 2006, which has cost more than 40,000 lives. He recently told the United Nations General Assembly in New York that consumer nations are “morally obligated” to “search for options, including market alternatives” if they can’t, or don’t want to reduce demand.

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