Tuesday, January 23, 2018 | Updated at 10:17 AM ET


Mexico to Hold First National Forum on Marijuana Legalization

First Posted: Jan 20, 2016 04:28 PM EST

Mexico will hold its first national forum debating the legal use of marijuana on Jan. 26 in Cancun, an Interior Ministry official said this week.

President Enrique Peña Nieto ordered the discussion, with four more forums to follow throughout the winter and into the spring, The Yucatan Times reports.

According to the Undersecretary of the Interior Ministry for Human Rights, Roberto Campa, a new digital platform will allow for a debate concerning the design of new public policies and the international impact of legalization. The forum will survey laws in 14 different countries and three U.S. states that have legalized the drug.

The announcement follows last year's ruling by the Supreme Court of Mexico, in which the five-justice panel allowed four people legal recreational use of marijuana under the right of "free development of personality," according to Leafly.

Legalization advocates were surprised but pleased by the verdict, giving them hope that it would lead to a national conversation about marijuana.

Top companies and marijuana investors have begun to show interest in Mexico as a promising business opportunity as well, Reuters reports.

Daniel Sparks, head of government affairs at the marijuana supply software company BioTrackTHC, said he believes the potential reward of marijuana legalization outweighs the risk posed by Mexico's notorious drug cartels. He believes the drug gangs will eventually pull away from the marijuana market if it is legalized.

"I am not so optimistic to think that a cannabis business in Mexico would not encounter opposition or violence from the cartels," Sparks said. "However, their profit margins are being eroded daily, monthly and yearly by the continued expansion of medical and recreational marijuana programs in more and more U.S. states."

Mexico's first Forum of Public Health and Prevention will focus on health concerns of recreational marijuana use, including risk of addiction. It will be followed by an Ethics and Human Rights debate on Feb. 23, with two more forums scheduled for March 8 and March 22. A final discussion encompassing all the relevant issues will be held sometime in Mexico City.

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