As more information becomes available and the medicinal value of marijuana is increasingly felt, Mexico has taken the next step in the road toward marijuana policy reform and officially legalized medical marijuana. This is only the first step of many as the rules and regulations will need to be written and a clearer understanding developed on the uses of THC, CBD and other cannabis derivatives. Beyond this, an entire industry will need to be put in place with growers, testers, dispensaries and doctors which may take some time. Nonetheless, this is a huge step forward for the country and its people who may benefit from the medicinal properties of the plant.
Overwhelming Support for Legalization
The bill received enormous support from the Senate last December where it passed 98-7. On April 28th, the lower house in parliament passed the bill with an overwhelming 374-7 vote and the Mexican President, Enrique Peña Nieto, published the bill today. Neto has been a longtime supporter of marijuana reform, telling the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Sessions in April, “So far, the solutions (to control drugs and crime) implemented by the international community have been frankly insufficient. We must move beyond prohibition to effective prevention.”
The Changing Perspectives of the President
Neto was at one time a passionate and vocal prohibitionist, very much against the legalization of marijuana. His views since changed as he learned more about the plant and the repercussions of prohibition. His opinions changed so much that, last year, Nieto tried to pass a bill that would have effectively ended prohibition in Mexico. The bill would have allowed adults to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana for personal use. The bill was stalled in Congress by forces beyond his control yet the president has still stood passionately behind marijuana and policy reform.
The Future Lies in Regulation
The general consensus by politicians in Mexico is one of positivity towards moving forward in the new direction, regardless of how much work lies ahead. Even Mexico’s Secretary of Health, Dr. José Narro Robles, showed his support for the new laws, stating, “I welcome the adoption of the therapeutic use of cannabis in Mexico.” It will be up to the Mexican Ministry of Health to draft the rules and regulations that will ultimately govern how this law will be implemented. The bill states that the Ministry will be in charge of “public policies regulating the medicinal use of pharmacological derivatives of cannabis sativa, indica and Americana or marijuana, including tetrahydrocannabinol, its isomers and stereochemical variants, as well as how to regulate the research and national production of them.”
As Mexico moves forward in the direction of ending prohibition, new Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently asked Congress for federal funding to crack down on medical marijuana in the 29 states where it is legal in the U.S. Several bipartisan bills currently exist that seek to protect states from federal interference when it comes to marijuana or seek to legalize, reclassify or declassify the plant altogether. The majority of Americans are in favor of ending prohibition so it’s more likely that this will become the ultimate direction for the U.S. as well.