major shift, Mexico president proposes relaxing
Send a link to a friend
[April 22, 2016]
By Gabriel Stargardter
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican President
Enrique Pena Nieto on Thursday proposed legalizing marijuana-based
medicines, raising the amount users can carry and freeing inmates on
minor weed charges, in a major shift amid regional efforts to reboot
Pena Nieto, who is grappling with deadly drug cartel violence, said
he will send to Congress a proposal to permit the use and
importation of marijuana-based medicines, and raise the amount that
weed users can legally carry to 28 grams from 5 grams.
Growing and selling marijuana is illegal in Mexico and a mainstay
business of violent drug gangs. Pena Nieto did not say where
consumers would be able to obtain the weed they are then allowed to
Pena Nieto said if his plan was approved, it would allow many people
behind bars for marijuana offenses to be released. However, he gave
no further details on what appeared tantamount to a retroactive
pardon for such inmates.
A traditional opponent of efforts to liberalize drug laws, Pena
Nieto began to modify his stance in recent months, reflecting
growing regional disenchantment with the so-called War On Drugs.
"Our country has suffered the harmful effects of drug-linked
organized crime. Thankfully, a new global consensus is gradually
gathering steam in favor of a reform to the international drug
regime," Pena Nieto said in Mexico City.
"Instead of criminalizing consumers, it will offer alternatives and
Pena Nieto's proposals are the fruit of a national drug policy
review that he called for following a landmark Supreme Court
decision in November, which allowed four plaintiffs to grow and
consume their own marijuana, paving the way for a liberalization of
After the ruling, Cristina Diaz, of Pena Nieto's ruling
Institutional Revolutionary Party, presented a bill to allow the
import of medical marijuana products. In January, she told Reuters
she expected the bill to be approved by May.
It is unclear what will now happen to her bill.
[to top of second column]
A growing number of politicians in Latin America, where hundreds of
thousands of people have died in drug-related violence in recent
decades, have begun to express their unease with prohibitionist drug
In the United States, two dozen states have approved marijuana for
medical purposes, while recreational use of the drug has been
legalized in Colorado, Washington state, Oregon, Alaska and the
District of Columbia.
The president's announcement will be good news for many of the
world's top companies cashing in on legal cannabis, who have been
weighing a bet on entering Mexico.
Pot private equity firm Privateer Holdings calculates a legal
medical and recreational cannabis market in Mexico could be worth
$1.7 billion a year.
(Additional reporting by Joanna Zuckerman Bernstein, Tomas Sarmiento
and Adriana Barrera; Editing by Simon Gardner and Meredith Mazzilli)
[© 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2016 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.