The United States is now the only North American country to fully enforce prohibition of cannabis, now that Mexico has officially joined Canada in allowing the legal use, cultivation and sale of medical marijuana. The decree that Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto signed this week classifies THC and marijuana as “therapeutic” and will leave all regulatory provisions up to the Ministry of Health.
This law has been in the works for some time – after a 2016 public comment period where President Peña Nieto came to understand why medical marijuana needed to be legalized, and why prohibition must end. It was an opportunity for the country, both citizen and government officials, to discuss the failed war on drugs openly, allowing legislature to come to a decision that most everyone was happy to move forward with.
“The ruling eliminates the prohibition and criminalization of acts related to the medicinal use of marijuana and its scientific research, and those relating to the production and distribution of the plant for these purposes.”
The bill was passed last December 2016 in the Senate with a vote of 98-7 in favor of allowing medical marijuana – an overwhelmingly positive first vote. Then in April of this year, The Lower House of Congress finally got their chance to vote and once again there was a large majority support for the bill with a final vote of 371-19 in favor. This passed the bill onto the President, who had at one point been against legalization of any kind, but has since changed his mind and supported the bill, signing it into law this week.
Patients who qualified were already able to import CB- only products with approval – but now there will be a fully legal medical marijuana program that allows full strength cannabis products. Reclassifying THC as therapeutic will open up the option to a lot of people – and in the future they are still looking at moving away from prohibition and towards prevention rather than criminalization and will likely be one of the next major countries to legalize cannabis for adult use.
Now that both Canada and Mexico have legalized the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, perhaps it is time for the U.S. legislature to have a serious discussion about doing the same. After all, more than half of the country has stepped away from prohibition in one form or another, whether it be decriminalizing, or legalizing the medicinal or recreational use of the plant – and the money wasted on enforcing failed prohibition laws could be much better spent in other places, while we take advantage of newfound legitimacy of cannabis sales.