A group of left-wing Mexican lawmakers from the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) [party website, in Spanish] introduced a bill on Tuesday to legalize marijuana in an effort to curb cartel violence [LAT news archive]. Since Mexican President Felipe Calderon [BBC profile] launched a crackdown on drug cartels in 2008, Mexico has faced a wave of violence [Reuters report] that has resulted in an estimated 70,000 deaths and 26,000 disappearances. PRD members plan on introducing a similar bill in the Mexican House next week. However, it is unclear whether the bill will ultimately be approved given that PRD is only the third largest party in Mexico's congress.
Marijuana legalization [JURIST backgrounder] has been controversial in the US and abroad. JURIST Guest Columnist Alex Kriet predicts that 2014 will be a groundbreaking year for marijuana policy [JURIST op-ed]. On Friday the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued guidelines [JURIST report] for banks to provide services to legal marijuana related businesses. Also last week Italy's constitutional court struck down [JURIST report] a harsh marijuana sentencing law. Earlier this month Michigan's Supreme Court ruled [JURIST report] that cities may not pass ordinances that conflict with the state's medical marijuana laws. In January, Florida's Supreme Court approved [JURIST report] a citizen initiative to vote on the legality of medical marijuana. In December Uruguay President Jose Mujica signed a bill [JURIST report] making the country the first to legalize the sale and production of marijuana.