Mexico’s Senate president says passing marijuana reform bills into law will be a priority in the new Congressional session starting next month.
According to reports, Roberto Gil Zuarth told journalists at a briefing that he expects his colleagues to enact legislation allowing the use of cannabis for medical purposes.
The Senate leader is also optimistic about setting up mechanisms that could lead to the early release of people currently incarcerated for possessing small amounts of the drug, Reforma reported, but he thinks it will take more time for the legislature to form a consensus and deal with the issue of legalizing marijuana altogether.
“We are looking for the best model, based on experiences such as the one from Uruguay or entities of the U.S. such as Colorado, without implying that we will be importing one,” Zuarth said. “We have to consider specific issues such as corruption in order to legislate on the matter.”
The comments come just days before Mexico’s Congress begins a series of 12 debate sessions on marijuana policy that are expected to dig in to issues such as prison overcrowding, consumer health, public safety, human rights, medical uses of cannabis and ways to regulate production.
Separately next week, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration is launching a series of five regional public forums on marijuana issues.
The government also created a website to organize information about marijuana policies. It includes an interactive map exploring cannabis laws around the world.
In November, Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that individuals have a right to grow and distribute marijuana for personal use. While that case only currently applies to the four individuals who brought it, the right to cultivate and consume cannabis would become binding nationwide if the court ruled similarly a handful of additional times.
Marijuana policy reform is increasingly gaining traction across Mexico’s political scene. Earlier this month, the mayor of the nation’s capital announced his support for legalization, saying it would deal a financial blow to drug cartels. “My position is always the defense of freedoms,” said Miguel Angel Mancera, who is considered to be a likely candidate in the country’s upcoming 2018 presidential election.
Elsewhere in North America, the Canadian government is preparing to end cannabis prohibition, which was a campaign pledge of new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. And in the U.S., at least five states are expected to vote on legalizing marijuana this November.