UNITED NATIONS – Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said on Tuesday he is open to the legalization of medical marijuana in Mexico and that his government would announce new measures in the coming days.
“I am giving voice to those who have (in public forums) expressed the necessity of changing the regulatory framework to authorize the use of marijuana for medical and scientific purposes,” Peña Nieto said in a speech at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Speaking at a special session where world leaders gathered to rethink global strategy in the war on drugs for the first time in two decades, Peña Nieto said drug use should be addressed as a “public health problem” and users should not be criminalized.
Peña Nieto, who has traditionally been a vocal opponent of drug legalization, also called for a global shift in dealing with drug consumption while continuing to fight organized crime.
“We should be flexible to change that which has not yielded results, the paradigm based essentially in prohibitionism, the so-called ‘War on Drugs’ … (which) has not been able to limit production, trafficking nor the global consumption of drugs,” he said.
Since a landmark Supreme Court decision late last year that paved the way for liberalization of Mexico‘s marijuana laws, support for medical marijuana has been growing.
Mexico City Mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera said he was also in favor of legal medicinal marijuana. He pointed out that Peña Nieto’s announcement supports the initiative that the mayor turned over to federal deputies last December that aims to modify the health law by regulating the use of medicinal marijuana.
“I presented it to (former Health Secretary) Juan Ramón de la Fuente, and now everyone is saying that it should be medicinal,” said Mancera. “Well I’m glad we are being proven right, and that our proposal is on the record. I’m glad it’s getting done quickly.”
The President of Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies, Jesús Zambrano, urged the president to present a proposal to Congress that is “as advanced as possible” to regulate the planting, production, distribution and commercialization of marijuana for medical and therapeutic uses.
We should be flexible to change that which has not yielded results, the paradigm based essentially in prohibitionism, the so-called ‘War on Drugs’ … (which) has not been able to limit production, trafficking nor the global consumption of drugs.”
-Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto
Zambrano, who is a member of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) indicated that a proposal from the federal government would be received next Thursday, so that legislators could vote on it before the conclusion of the current session on April 30.
He said he didn’t know the details of the proposal that the head of state would be making this week, but mentioned that the increase in grams allowed for personal consumption would reduce the pressure on the penitentiary system.
A senator from Peña Nieto’s ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party told Reuters earlier this year that a bill permitting the use of medical marijuana should be approved by May.
Late last year, Colombia approved the use of medical marijuana.
Peña Nieto also said, echoing comments by a senior government minister to Reuters last year, that participants in Mexican government forums have advocated increasing the legal limits for personal marijuana use.