Opposition political figures expressed their approval regarding President Enrique Peña Nieto introducing a socially-minded drug policy during the United Nations General Assembly Special Assembly (UNGASS) on drugs. The policy that Peña Nieto will present will allow the use of marijuana for medical and scientific purposes and will raise the amount that is legal to possess for personal use.
Juan Ramón de la Fuente, who is also former rector of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), the largest and most prestigious public university in the country, said that Peña Nieto’s new position on the issue of drugs demonstrates an opening in Mexico and an official recognition that prohibition has failed.
However, the former secretary of health would have liked to see Peña Nieto go further and also accept recreational use of marijuana. “Recreational use should be mentioned, it should be on the agenda, because it is unavoidable and it needs its own legislative treatment,” said De la Fuente. “So, I think it needs to be put on the agenda, and if the president doesn’t think the right moment has come yet, I hope it will come in the near future.”
Senate President Roberto Gil Zuarth, a member of the conservative National Action Party (PAN), said that he was encouraged by Peña Nieto’s change in position, and by the change in the rhetoric from the violent rhetoric of the war on drugs to seeing drugs as a public health problem.
“I think we need to take a big step in the short term to be able to change a situation that is hurting Mexico,” he said. “The problem of violence, the problem of insecurity, the problem of corruption is associated with the existence of a very large black market for drugs, and that black market exists because we chose to criminalize drugs.”
The problem of violence, the problem of insecurity, the problem of corruption is associated with the existence of a very large black market for drugs, and that black market exists because we chose to criminalize drugs.
-Roberto Gil Zuarth, president of the Senate, National Action Party (PAN)
Both politicians were interviewed after participating in the “Mexican Constitutional Federalism” seminar organized by the Senate.