The throuving medical marijuana movement in Mexico

Marijuana was legalized in Mexico on June 19th, 2017, or more particularly, (1) “pharmacological derivatives of cannabis” which is controlled and learned by the Ministry of Health.

However, the cannabis market in Mexico seems to be different as compared to that California which sells all products including cannabis flower and THC-infused massage oil. Presently, “cannabis derivatives” in Mexico, including oils and pills, have to have at least one percent THC. Even though cannabis activists are hoping and trying to overturn this conservative allotment, a lot of people trust that complete cannabis legalization will boost the Mexican economy.

According to Laura Carlsen, political analyst and director of the Americas Program at the Center for International Policy in Mexico City said “This current law is so limited as to be practically useless. But we’re headed in the right direction and the attitude is changing,” (2). In this article, we will update you Mexico’s marijuana program.

What’s legal so far?

Since 2009, Mexico started to change its marijuana policy when it legalized the carrying of about five grams of marijuana, and also small quantities of cocaine, heroin, and other drugs (3). This was done in order to solve the addiction problem which is seen as a public health issue instead of a criminal offense. Rather than jail time, people who were caught possessing these drugs were persuaded to carry out treatment.

However, things evolved in 2015, when Graciela Elizalde who was 8 years old suffered from a severe type of epilepsy called Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, carried medicinal marijuana to the Mexican public. Her seizures were drastically reduced by CBD oil and it also enhances her lifestyle, which made her turn into the only Mexican medical marijuana patient due to a Supreme Court ruling which favored her.

After that, a bill concerning medical cannabis was passed through both the Mexican Senate and the Lower House of Congress with a huge majority, and the bill was signed on June 19th, 2017 by President Enrique Peña Nieto. Currently, the Mexican health ministry has until mid-December, to declare guidelines for medical marijuana, which is not up to the time which the state of California takes to declare their regulations on adult use. If Mexico sticks to its due date, cannabis-derived products could become accessible in pharmacies in Mexico to help cure ailments such as epilepsy, Parkinson’s, and cancer.

The new law in Mexico has made them join a number of nations that have legalized medical marijuana at the federal level, alongside other countries like Canada, Israel, Uruguay, Puerto Rico and Germany – though notably not the United States.

How popular is cannabis legalization in Mexico?

Mexicans are conservative people and almost 81 percent of the populace is considered as Catholic. The Catholic Church is strongly against the use of marijuana, medicinal or recreational. One of their primary cases against legalization is that it will make youths to become addicted. However, this has proven to be wrong because, in Colorado, the end of marijuana prohibitions has reduced the use of marijuana among youths.

Desde La Fe (From the Faith) which is a very common Catholic newspaper in the country, reported a number of op-eds which opposed the legalization of marijuana. The newspaper claimed that cannabis doesn’t have medicinal benefits and that the government is confusing the public by legalizing cannabis. The primary argument for putting an end to marijuana prohibition in Mexico is to facilitate the curbing of narcotraficante (drug cartel) violence. But the Catholic Church believes that legalizing cannabis will rather increase drug violence, which made them publish a report towards the end of 2017 by saying that “In our sad horizon appears a sick and violent country,” which referred to a Mexico with legalizing marijuana.

When comparing Mexico to the U.S., there’s less support for cannabis from the general population and is still highly stigmatized in Mexico. After Grace Elizalde’s landmark case in November 2015, the Center of Social Studies and Public Opinion (CESPO) carried a survey on Mexicans and discovered that 82 percent of Mexicans did not support the sales and distribution of cannabis in Mexico, 73 percent of Mexicans did not support the legalization of recreational cannabis, but 76 percent supported the legalization of cannabis for medical use.

On the other hand, Americans have a different perspective of putting an end to marijuana prohibition: According to a 2017 Quinnipiac Poll, 60 percent of Americans agree to complete legalization (4).

Marijuana legalization in the U.S. created a big impact on the population’s opinion of cannabis in Mexico. According to President Enrique Peña Nieto’s interview with Cultura Colectiva, who didn’t support the legalization of marijuana said, “I’m not ruling out that in the near future marijuana will be fully legalized in Mexico. It’s already occurring in other countries, particularly the United States.”

Is it possible for Mexico to gain full legalization?

Mexicans have the momentum to legalize cannabis and is the highest advocate is former President Vicente Fox Quesada. Previously, Fox knew that Mexico marijuana will be completely legal in Mexico by 2018.

Fox currently works alongside Mexican politicians, such as Fernando Belaunzaran, on efforts to legalize marijuana. Belaunzaran, who was previously a congressman, has been fighting for the legalization of cannabis in Mexico since he proposed a bill to fully legalize cannabis back in 2012.

He also had a meeting with Steve DeAngelo who is an American activist and dispensary owner, on legalization matters when he visited Oakland, California. He went to the Bay Area to speak at the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) convention where he spoke about Mexico’s plans to fully legalize cannabis. He also spoke about Mexico’s plan to produce up to 60 percent of legalized marijuana in the U.S and that cannabis have to be included into NAFTA.

However, more than a cash crop, Fox sees the end of prohibition as the most suitable way to fight against violence in Mexico cartels.

Could legalization put an end to cartels?

Mexico has a reputation for drug trafficking, political corruption, and violence which have a close link. Back on December 11th, 2006, former president Felipe Calderón started a “war on drugs” that accelerated violence and instability in Mexico to a new level.

Calderón’s war on drugs led to an increase in violence due to many reasons. Firstly, his “kingpin” policy to teardown cartels failed, it destabilized companies which caused a violent inner power struggle, which reportedly started a new, smaller, and more violent gangs.

However, the primary motive for the increase in violence, particularly homicide and “disappeared” individuals, was due to the mobilization of local law enforcement, and his huge expansion to security in Mexico and military budget.

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