Mexico Just Beat the U.S. to Legalizing Medical Marijuana

Mexico Just Beat the U.S. to Legalizing Medical Marijuana

These days, when Mexico and the United States are mentioned in the same sentence, it usually has something to do with President Trump building a wall. So it’s a little bit ironic that Mexico beat the U.S. to tearing down the wall between its citizens and access to legal medical marijuana. On June 21, 2017, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto signed a decree legalizing medical cannabis in the country, with the strong support of the nation’s Lower House of Congress. [1]

There’s just this…one…little…pesky detail: only products with 1% THC or lower will be permitted. That’s just slightly less than some of the 20%+ THC products some of the legal medical cannabis dispensaries in America offer. Heh. Even so, the decree classified the psychoactive ingredient as “therapeutic.” [1] [2]

In the declaration, Nieto called on the Ministry of Health to draft and implement regulations and public policies regarding “the medicinal use of pharmacological derivatives of cannabis sativa, indica, and Americana or marijuana, including tetrahydrocannabinol its isomers, and stereo-chemical variants, as well as how to regulate the research and national production of them.” [2]

The decree is a start, but nothing close to what pro-marijuana lawmakers had hoped for. Sen. Miguel Barbosa said the legislation was “well below the expectations of society.” Sen. Armando Rios Peter referred to it as a “tiny” step away from a failed drug policy. [1]

But the bloody drug trade has made large swaths of Latin America terrifying warzones, so the move could ease such tensions, though the effect could be negligible, because – come on, 1% THC or less?

Though an estimated 100,000 people have died at the hands of drug cartels in the last decade, marijuana legalization of any kind is remarkably unpopular in Mexico. About 66% of the population opposes it.

The Catholic Church staunchly opposes legalization, even for medicinal purposes, once writing in an editorial:

“A drug is a drug even if it’s sold as a soft medicinal balm. Bad Mexican copycats emulate the neighbor to put on the table of ‘sane democracy’ a bleak, absurd and counterproductive debate. Recreational marijuana is a placebo to ease the pain of the social destruction in which we irremediably wallow.”

So, it might be a baby step, but it’s still a step in the right direction.

A statement from the Lower House of Parliament reads:

“The ruling eliminates the prohibition and criminalization of acts related to the medicinal use of marijuana and its scientific research, and those relating to the production and distribution of the plant for these purposes.” [2]

President Nieto was once a major opponent of marijuana legalization, but now believes that drug addiction should be thought of as a public health problem, and has advocated for Mexico and the U.S. to follow similar policies on drug use and marijuana legalization. [1]


[1] The Washington Post

[2] The Fresh Toast