Mexico is one of many countries engaged in a war on drugs. For decades, the country has seen devastating loss of life and the negative impact of drug trafficking led by organized crime groups. Earlier this month, the Mexican Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill to broaden the use of medical marijuana—an action intended to combat the criminal marketplace for drugs.
The vote came less than a year after Mexico’s president, Enrique Pena Nieto addressed the United Nations General Assembly and declared his intention to reform Mexico’s drug policies. The move marked a change of opinion for the Mexican President, who in the past has indicated he was not in favor of legalizing marijuana. Pena Nieto has not only allowed, but supported a movement that would permit the use of medical marijuana. He has also indicated he would consider changes to decriminalize small quantities of marijuana for recreational use.
Although recreational cannabis is currently prohibited in Mexico, last year the Supreme Court granted four people the right to grow cannabis for their own personal consumption. Those decisions have opened up the possibility of legalization and hasten its coming. But there are still many gains to be made within the scope of medical marijuana.
While the bill received significant support in the Mexican Senate, approved on a vote of 98-7, it only allows for a very limited use of THC within cannabis products. The bill allows the authorization of cultivation of marijuana for medical and scientific purposes, but establishes that only products with concentrations of one percent THC or less would be considered legal. Despite the limitations, the passage of the bill indicates Mexico’s receptiveness to further change.
Mexico isn’t the only country to make sweeping reforms. In 2013, Uruguay became the first country in the world to legalize the production, sale and consumption of marijuana. Earlier in 2016, Canada announced their intentions to legalize in 2017, making it potentially the second country to legalize marijuana. Mexico, like other countries, is choosing to take a different approach to drug reforms. Combatting criminals will remain a key focus, but no longer will there be the criminalization and punishment of consumers.