The use of marijuana and its byproducts for medicinal, therapeutic and research purposes is closer to becoming a reality after a vast majority in the Senate voted in its favor yesterday.
With 98 votes for, seven against and one abstention, legislators approved a series of modifications to the Mexican General Health Law and the Federal Penal Code.
In the presentation of the proposed modifications, Senator Cristina Díaz declared that the initiative is a positive response to the thousands of people waiting to legally import cannabis products that can aid in the treatment of their ailments.
The legislative proposal, continued Díaz, also lifts all sanctions against the sowing, cultivation and harvesting of marijuana plants, if done in accordance with the law’s terms and conditions.
“Most importantly, we’re opening the door for Mexican scientists to establish their own cannabis research protocols . . . enabling them to develop better cannabis treatment options.”
Senator Miguel Barbosa explained that the proposed modifications also enable the Health Secretariat to design and enforce public policies geared toward the medicinal use of all varieties of cannabis, and their byproducts.
But he expressed regret that the modifications fall short of the expectations of Mexican society.
“[President Enrique Peña Nieto] did not live up to his original proposal. We must not forget that first he had a progressive initiative, but in the face of several groups’ objections he allowed the discussion to focus only on the medicinal use [of marijuana],” said the Senator.
Senator Gabriela Cuevas agreed, observing that the approved modifications were not in line with the national reality and the global situation.
The modifications now go before the Chamber of Deputies, where they’ll be further discussed and analyzed.
The government has allowed the importation of medicine with cannabidiol (CBD), an active chemical ingredient of the drug, on a case-by-case basis after a Supreme Court ruling last year.
For Lisa Sánchez, a drug policy expert at the non-profit organization México Unido Contra la Delincuencia (Mexico United Against Crime), the Senate’s decision was “not the end of the road.”
“For years we’ve been fighting for acknowledgment and approval and recognition of the medical and therapeutic uses of cannabis, and today we finally have something,” she said.
Recreational marijuana use is still broadly prohibited in Mexico, but last year the Supreme Court granted four people the right to grow their own marijuana for personal consumption, opening the door to legalization.