Key Lawmaker Urges #Mexico to Legalize #Marijuana

Ines Cano (R) and her daughter, who uses medical marijuana to treat the symptoms of refractory epilepsy, visit the Cannalivio cannabis lab, Colombia May 7, 2015.

The president of Mexico’s lower house says that both medical and recreational marijuana use should be legalized.

Mexico should move ahead with completely legalizaing Marijuana, according to Jesus Zambrano, the president of the country’s Chamber of Deputies. On Sunday the legislative body began a month-long discussion on the drug war.

“The topic has its international component and efforts need to be combined, particularly between the United States and Mexico, to have common rules, laws that are essentially identical, though each with its own modalities, because we are distinct, but the United States must help our country apply, for instance, legalization of marijuana for medical and recreational use,” said Zambrano.

He added that Mexico will not wait for the United States and will instead follow the example of Colombia and Italy in pursuing policies to undercut organized crime.

Mexico has been ravaged by violence in the last decade, with more than 164,000 homicides between 2007 and 2014 alone, coiniciding with an increasingly militarized war on drugs.

Zambrano also touched on the use of border controls to limit the traffic of arms, which has equipped narcotraffickers with more weapons than the national army. Inequality and poverty, he said, are also central to any policy addressing gang violence.

Last year, Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that a couple had a right under the constitution to cultivate marijuana, though that ruling did not legalize cultivation for others.

Mexican lawmakers will be discussing whether or not to extend that ruling themselves until Feb. 17.

Did the US Congress Just Lift the Ban on Medical Marijuana?

Last year, the U.S. congress approved a measure that prevents the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration from spending money to interfere with state laws on medical marijuana. The move has been heralded as tantamount to essentially lifting the federal ban on medical marijuana and a major blow to the war on drugs.

The measure lets states implement their own medical marijuana policy without the fear of federal interference. And this is big news, considering that the majority of U.S. citizens now live in states where medical marijuana is legal.

“I think it is a step in the right direction and it shows the willingness to respect the will of the people,” Amanda Reiman, manager of Marijuana Law and Policy at the Drug Policy Alliance.

The provision was approved as part of the massive 1,603-page US$1.1 trillion spending bill for 2016—the amendment had been passed temporarily in 2015, but its approval in the 2016 spending bill locked it into law—and it comes as national views on cannabis and mass incarceration have shifted in recent years. More lawmakers are now open to rolling back strict federal drug policy, which still holds that marijuana is more dangerous than cocaine.

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