Back in April, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto made headlines after calling on his government to legalize medicinal marijuana, hoping to decrease the Cartel violence that has plagued Mexico for decades. While some US states have attempted to deter people from buying off of the black market (which supports the cartel’s illegal drug trade) the Mexican government is finally looking to take matters into their own hands.
After a national debate on the country’s narcotics policy, the Mexican senate passed a bill on Tuesday that would legalize medical cannabis. The measure passed in a landslide 98-7 vote. Now that the law has passed in the senate, it will move to the lower Chamber of Deputies for final approval.
While the new policy surely stands to have a positive impact, many lawmakers and advocates believe that the bill falls short of what the country truly needs: widespread recreational legalization. After the measure was passed, the leftist Democratic Revolution Party Senator Miguel Barbosa argued that the legislation was "well below the expectations of society.”
However, other Senators have come out in full support of the measure, viewing the policy as a major victory for Mexican citizens in need of alternative medicines such as cannabis. The bill directs the Mexican Health Department to "design public policies to regulate the medicinal use of this plant and its derivatives.” The bill would also make the cultivation of cannabis for medical and scientific reasons fully legal in Mexico, but will this be enough to deliver a heavy blow to the cartels?
While some policymakers and politicians feel that widespread legalization would be a drastic improvement over the more limited policy, it’s hard to deny that the measure is a major step forward for Mexico. Since former President Felipe Calderon launched the offensive against drug cartels a decade ago, over 100,000 people have been killed, and 30,000 others are still missing. While the bill might not be perfect, it will at least put cultivation back in the hands of the government and their citizens.