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19 Feb, 2014 13:00

Bill to legalize medical marijuana proposed in Mexico

Bill to legalize medical marijuana proposed in Mexico

A group of left-wing Mexican politicians has announced a bill to legalize medical marijuana. The legislation will be pitched to the Senate as an alternative to the current prohibitionist policy, which has done little to curb the illegal drugs industry.

The bill was presented by members of Mexico’s third-largest political party at a press conference in Mexico City on Tuesday. Congressman Fernando Belauzaran of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PDR) said Mexico was in need of a new tactic in the war against drugs.

"Seventy thousand dead, 26,000 disappeared and an incalculable number of internally displaced are more than sufficient reason to look for an alternative model," Congressman Fernando Belaunzaran told reporters.

The bill itself would modify the Mexican Criminal Code and the Mexican General Health Law, establishing a framework for the production, transportation and distribution of medical marijuana. Under the legislation the legal limit on the amount of marijuana an individual can carry would increase from 5 grams to 30 grams.

Moreover, an individual who is found to be growing pot would not be penalized as long as the amount of the drug produced did not exceed 300 grams. The bill will be presented to the lower house at some point next week.

PDR politician Esthela Damian said that the backbone of the new piece of legislation was ensuring the health and wellbeing of the Mexican people. She added that they had taken Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto’s words seriously when he said his government was open to discussion on the issue of legalization of marijuana in October of last year.

“We hope that Pena Nieto’s offer to open the debate on this issue was more than just words,” Damian said to press.

Balauzaran said that Mexico needed to take America’s decision to legalize the consumption of cannabis in the states of Colorado and Washington because a large part of the drugs which pass through Mexico end up in the United States.

Pena Nieto assumed the presidency in December of 2012 and has thus far taken no decisive action to combat the high level of drugs related violence in Mexico. His predecessor Felipe Calderon launched the so-called ‘War on Drugs’ in 2007 which has left more the 85,000 dead and around 27,000 people disappeared.

Last December, Uruguay became the first country in the world to bring the marijuana industry under state control, in a move that may prompt other nations in the region to follow suit if it proves successful.