Legalizing marijuana does not have widespread support in Mexico, according to polls, nor did it have that of President Enrique Peña Nieto last December.
But today the president announced he would send legislation to Congress that not only permits the use of marijuana for scientific and medical purposes but increases the amount a person may possess to 28 grams from five.
The measures are in line with the president’s speech Tuesday to the United Nations General Assembly on the World Drug Problem, or UNGASS, in which he spoke in favor of both.
Today he said the new law would end the criminalization of marijuana consumption and permit the use of medicines made from a base of marijuana and/or its active ingredients. Clinical research into marijuana-based products would also be allowed.
The law will also free anyone serving jail time or currently on trial for possession of less than 28 grams of marijuana.
Two events last year put marijuana use in the limelight. The first was a court ruling in August allowing the parents of a child who suffered from epilepsy to treat her with a marijuana-based product.
The second was the Supreme Court’s ruling in November that allowed four people who challenged marijuana laws to cultivate, process and possess it for their personal use. The decision applied only to those four but opened the door to legalization.
A week later Peña Nieto made it clear he was opposed to legalizing marijuana but at the same time announced a series of forums to develop a consensus on marijuana policy.
One recent poll found 71% opposed to recreational marijuana, while 64% approved its use for medicinal purposes.
The father of the child with epilepsy hailed the president’s move but said there were still more changes required. He said his daughter’s suffering had been reduced by 80% with the marijuana-based treatment.