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Mexico Marijuana Legalization, Drug Possession Decriminalization Becomes Focus for President Enrique Peña Nieto

First Posted: Apr 20, 2016 12:34 PM EDT
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto

Photo : Dan Kitwood- WPA Pool/Getty Images

Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto plans to spearhead a drive aimed at legalizing the use of medicinal marijuana, which could also push the idea of decriminalizing possession of certain amounts of the drug.

Peña Nieto recently made his announcement while speaking at the U.N. Drug Policy Summit in New York. He added his administration has already begun holding forums seeking input from leaders across the country concerning more effective ways of policing the flow of drugs.

"As president of Mexico, in this special session, I give voice to those [Mexican opinion leaders] who expressed the need to update, within the confines of the law, the use of marijuana for medical and scientific purposes," he said, adding that part of the plan also calls for looking for ways to control the situation outside of the current strict law enforcement regulation.

EPN Listening to Proposals From all Corners

While labeling the flow and consumption of drugs "a public health problem," Peña Nieto stressed the core of his proposals stem from the feedback he has received from the various forums his administration has hosted.

Part of those discussions entailed addressing the long boiling debate of what increased amounts of the drug should be considered legal for personal use.

Under current Mexican law, possession of small quantities of certain drugs believed to be intended for personal use such as five grams of marijuana, 50 milligrams of cocaine and 40 milligrams of meth, are considered tolerable.

Strict Approach to Drug law Enforcement Fell Flat

Over a six-year period beginning in 2006, Mexico tried the strict law enforcement approach under the conservative regime of then-President Felipe Calderon. The experiment proved a costly one, with tens of thousands of Mexicans perishing after drug cartels split following the arrests or deaths of many of their leaders.

"We need to define better solutions from a perspective of human rights, prevention and public health to put people's welfare at the center [of our agenda]," said Peña Nieto.

Peña Nieto has long been a critic of the so-called "War on Drugs" and last year's Supreme Court decision in support of medical marijuana has paved the way his proposed changes in Mexico.

"We should be flexible to change that which has not yielded results, the paradigm based essentially in prohibitionism, the so-called 'War on Drugs' ... (which) has not been able to limit production, trafficking nor the global consumption of drugs," he said.

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