Mexico to Hold National Debate on Cannabis Legalization

Published on December 3, 2015 · Last updated July 28, 2020

In November, the Mexican Supreme Court ruled that the personal recreational use of marijuana is constitutionally legal under the right to “free development of personality,” but the ruling was only applicable to the four defendants in the court case. Mexican citizens, as well as curious onlookers from around the globe, are wondering how the ruling will apply to the rest of the country, and it looks like Mexico’s Congress and administration will have to confront the issue sooner rather than later.

In January, the Mexican government will be holding a national debate on whether or not to overhaul Mexico’s laws on cannabis. President Enrique Peña Nieto has been fairly open about his opposition to legalization, but this ruling has put his opinion in the spotlight. Peña Nieto admitted that his opinion on the matter has not changed, but that his administration may be open to changing the laws, depending on the outcome of the national debate.

Beginning the third week of January, there will be a series of public debates with medical, legal and academic experts. A total of five debates will be held in different regions of the country to focus on health implications, regulations, costs, the relationship between decriminalization and violence, and whether cannabis consumption should be considered a human right.

Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong relayed that the government is planning to launch a website that will publish various scientific and academic papers on the risks and benefits of marijuana in an effort to inform the public at large:

“To be effective, we must consider the different alternatives as well as the costs, benefits and viability of each of them and their impact on the population. Mexico will have to decide in the next months which policy it will need to face a phenomenon that affects different areas and aspects of the lives of millions of Mexicans.”

Supporters believe that legalization would hit Mexico’s drug cartels where it hurts – in their profits – as well as reducing the rampant violence that has plagued Mexico for years. There have been more than 90,000 deaths since 2006 related to Mexico’s war on drugs, and the number of deaths and disappearances have not slowed under Pena Nieto’s administration.

An end to prohibition could mean an end to the violence, but first we’ll have to see what comes out of January’s debates.

Read more about Mexico’s Supreme Court ruling that declared the personal recreational use of marijuana legal under the right of “free development of personality.”

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Lisa Rough
Lisa Rough
Lisa is a former associate editor at Leafly, where she specialized in legislative cannabis policy and industry topics.
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