The Mexican senate passed the medical marijuana bill by a whopping 98-7; the lower house must still pass it before the law can be implemented. Drug lords and drug cartels have however been a problem in Mexico for many years, and some worry that greater tolerance will be in their interests.
Mexico is one step closer to medical marijuana legalization and production for medicinal use and research
President Enrique Pena Nieto, introduced the bill as part of a proposal submitted to congress earlier this year. Only seven senators voted against the measure. In a statement, the senate said the measure directs the Department of Health to devise public policies to regulate the medicinal use of the cannabis plant and its derivatives.
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CBD and THC permitted in medical products
The government allows for medicines containing CBD (cannabidiol) to be imported on an individual evaluation basis after a decision by court in 2015. PAN Senator Roberto Gil, who supports the bill, says the law aims to create a regulatory system specifically for certain substances found in marijuana that have positive health effects for patients. It is not meant to legalize marijuana itself for medicinal purposes.
The bill proposes that THC should also be permitted in medical products, and specifies that products containing up to one percent or less THC can be considered as legal to sell, buy, import and export.
Possible research on medicinal properties
Lawmakers of Mexico would like the medicinal properties of cannabis to be legally explored. There has been an influx of applications for medical marijuana, mainly from people seeking permission for cannabidiol. Gil aims to give access where it is most needed first: to children suffering sclerosis and epilepsy.
Lisa Sanchez, Mexico Unido Contra la Delincuencia’s director of drug policies, says it is a very positive move forward as they have been fighting for the medical and therapeutic use of marijuana to be recognized for many years. She says it is not the end of the road yet, but it is a start. Her organization focuses on fighting organized crime.
Recreational use strictly prohibited
Marijuana for recreational use is still broadly prohibited, but last year the Supreme Court granted the right to four people to grow their own plants for use. Some believe it was a door opening to possible legalization.
Many see the bill as a foreshadowing of outright legalization of marijuana being on the cards for Mexico. But some lawmakers argue the bill is not broad enough as it doesn’t cover the right of individuals to grow the plant, or other drugs such as opium paste or poppies, nor does it address wider issues such as the war on drugs.
A small step forward
Democratic Revolution Party, senator Armando Rios Piter, is one of the seven who voted against the bill. He argues that it does not combat organized crime. Although he acknowledges the benefit to a few patients suffering from chronic disease, he sees it as “very small”.
Rios Piter was quoted as saying that to celebrate and pretend substantial change was made on marijuana would be to fool oneself at this stage. A decade ago, President Felipe Calderon set in motion his hostile militarized strategy against Mexican drug cartels, which has killed more than a 100,000 people and left 30,000 unaccounted for.
However, the concerns and excitement surrounding CBD oil shows how little people understand this substance. No drug cartel is going to fight police in order to produce a product that can’t make anyone high in the first place.