Mexican President Announces Medical Marijuana Legislation at U.N. Drug Summit

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto announced his plan of legalizing marijuana for medical and scientific purposes at the UN Drug Policy Summit. Peña Nieto spoke at the UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs and referred to narcotics as a “public health problem,” urging the international community to be “flexible” in tackling them.

While admitting Mexico has problems with drug trafficking, Peña Nieto recognized the limitations of the prohibition. “We must move beyond prohibition to effective prevention,” Peña Nieto said, urging the U.N. to reject what he called “insufficient” responses to global drug problems. “Availability and better access to controlled substances for medical and scientific purposes should be assured, avoiding at the same time its diversion, misuse and trafficking,” Peña Nieto said.

Addressing the impact of violence on Mexico, he said drug trafficking is still one of the most profitable activities of organized crime in the Latin American country. He stated, “My country is one of the nations that have paid a high price, an excessive price, in terms of tranquility, suffering and human lives.”

Notorious drug cartels hold massive influence beyond Mexican borders and often operate with impunity. These cartels have been implicated in genocide, kidnapping, human trafficking, assassinating politicians and journalists, extortion and corruption at all levels. 

Peña Nieto has been a vocal opponent of legalization in the past, saying, "I myself have spoken on the subject, I have advocated the need to open up a broad debate on this issue, on public policies that have been followed and even more so when we see that in various parts of the world legalized consumption has eventually happened and in Mexico it is an activity that is still penalized and criminalized."

Currently, the legal limit for cannabis possession in Mexico is five grams. In addition, users possessing 50 milligrams of cocaine or 40 milligrams of methamphetamine (crystal meth) are not in breach of the law.

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