Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto [official profile] sent a proposal to his nation’s Senate on Thursday to reform [press release] the General Health Law and the Federal Penal Code to relax laws against marijuana, including medical use. The move comes after receiving input from the National Debate Forums on Marijuana Use, which included researchers, institutions of higher education, health professionals and journalists. First, the proposal seeks to authorize the use and importation of all medicine made with marijuana, subject to health laws. Second, the bill would also permit clinical research for medicines containing marijuana. Lastly, should the bill pass, it would decriminalize possession of marijuana of up to 28 grams, or nearly a full ounce, and would release prisoners who were criminally convicted for possessing less than 28 grams of the drug. This last provision would essentially decriminalize personal use of marijuana. Peña Nieto stated [press release, in Spanish] that the terms of the debate around drugs are changing in Mexico and in the world and that Mexico recognizes the limitations of an essentially prohibitionist and punitive “war on drugs,” which has predominated on an international level for over 40 years. The initiative would be followed by renewed institutional efforts aimed at preventing addictions and the head of the Ministry of Health stated this would lead to more research and greater therapeutic possibilities.
In the US, the legal use and sale of marijuana [JURIST backgrounder] for both medical and recreational purposes has also become a controversial issue, with a number of states contemplating various legalization initiatives. Earlier this week Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed a bill [JURIST report] legalizing medical marijuana. Last month the US Supreme Court declined to hear [JURIST report] a case brought by Nebraska and Oklahoma against Colorado, challenging its marijuana laws. In November 2014 voters in Alaska, Oregon and Washington, DC, voted [JURIST report] to legalize recreational marijuana.