Mexico Legalizes Medical Marijuana

By Victoria Kim 06/22/17

The medical marijuana bill passed Mexico’s legislature with overwhelming support.

The Mexican flag set against a backdrop of marijuana

On Monday, June 19, Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto made it official—cannabis is now legal for medical use in Mexico.

The new law of the land came in a decree issued by Nieto, which tasks the Ministry of Health with building the country’s new medical marijuana program, including overseeing research and production, and establishing rules and regulations.

The medical marijuana bill passed Mexico’s legislature with overwhelming support—first the Senate in December and the Lower House of Congress in April where it was approved with a vote of 347-7.

“The ruling eliminates the prohibition and criminalization of acts related to the medicinal use of marijuana and its scientific research, and those relating to the production and distribution of the plant for these purposes,” the Lower House said in a statement.

“I welcome the approval of the therapeutic use of cannabis in Mexico,” said Secretary of Health Dr. José Narro Robles, according to Leafly.

This is all happening amid Mexico’s violent drug war, which is estimated to have killed 100,000 people in the last decade because of drug cartel violence.

Leafly notes that President Nieto once opposed cannabis legalization, but changed his tune at the 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session which focused on global drug policy where he said, “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.”

Nieto now considers drug addiction a “public health problem” that should be treated in a medical context, not a criminal one.

The president even introduced a measure in April 2016 to allow Mexican citizens to possess up to one ounce of cannabis.

Several other South American leaders, despite having issues with drug traffickers of their own, have warmed to the idea of relaxing their respective drug laws. This year, Uruguay officially became the first country to fully legalize cannabis after the country’s legislature approved it in 2013.

"This is not to promote it, but to compete with the informal market," said Juan Roballo, head of the National Drug Board.

Uruguayans 18 or older must register with the government to purchase a limit of 40 grams per month (or 10 grams per week). Foreigners will not be able to purchase cannabis in Uruguay.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr