Mexico’s president proposes legalising medical marijuana

Enrique Pea Nieto says laws would stop criminalising consumption andthe initiative signals a shift for the president, who has opposed legalisation

Mexicos president Enrique Pea Nieto has announced plans to introduced laws to legalise medical marijuana and increase the quantity anyone can carry and consume for recreational purposes from five grams to 28 grams. His plan would also free some prisoners convicted of possessing small amounts of marijuana.

The proposed laws, he said on Thursday, would stop criminalising consumption, and also authorise the use of medicines made from a base of marijuana and or its active ingredients.

The initiative, which will now go to the senate for debate, signals a shift for Pea Nieto, who says he has never smoked marijuana and has openly opposed its legalisation.

It follows his announcement earlier this week at the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on drugs, UNgass, in which Pea Nieto called a more prevention, partial decriminalization and a public health approach.

Although Mexico along with Colombia and Guatemala had lobbied the UN to bring forward the special session from from its original date of 2018, Pea Nieto had originally planned to skip the meeting. He made a U-turn under criticism at home. Mexico, which sees enormous shipments of drugs smuggled through its territory to the United States, has been hit hard by violence stemming from a 10-year crackdown on drug cartels and organised crime that has claimed more than 100,000 lives.

Medical marijuana made national news in Mexico last summer after the parents of an eight-year-old named Graciela Elizalde won the right to use a medicine containing cannabinoids to treat Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, a condition causing hundreds of daily epileptic seizures.

In November, the supreme court also granted injunctions to four individuals seeking permission to cultivate and consume marijuana for recreational reasons a move which activists believe paves the way to broader decriminalisation

Pea Nieto strongly opposed the ruling, but responded by proposing series of five forums on the drugs issue. Those results were released Monday and included prevention, facilitating the medical use and investigation of controlled substances and dealing with drugs from a perspective of human rights.

Polls show Mexican mostly opposed to medical marijuana, though opposition has softened over the past six months. Polling firm Parametra found 71% of Mexicans opposed to recreational marijuana, though 64% approved using it for medicinal purposes.

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