Mexico’s Congress Announces Marijuana Legalization Debates in 2016

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A leading Mexican lawmaker just announced that the country’s Congress will hold a series of debates on legalizing marijuana in the new year.

“This will be an unprecedented year for Congress in terms of exchange of information, assessments and debate in which legislators and specialists participate,” Jesus Zambrano Grijalva, president of the Congress’s Permanent Committee, said in a press release on Sunday. “We can discuss, ask questions, doubts, listen to opinions, suggestions on what should be a comprehensive policy for drugs in our country. This is an issue that we have to discuss, so it must be a true exercise of enrichment.”

(All quotations automatically translated by Google from the original Spanish.)

The announcement of the debate sessions, which are set to begin on January 25, comes less than two months after 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.

“Only a comprehensive alternative can help address this social problem, because we understand that the prohibitionist politics and violence that would tackle when advanced from a head-on fight against organized crime linked to drug use and trafficking have not yielded the expected results,” Zambrano Grijalva said in the press release.

The newly announced debate sessions will cover issues such as human rights, medical cannabis, prison overcrowding, consumer health, public safety and ways to regulate marijuana production.

“I am convinced that a large part of the violence and prison overcrowding we have in the country will be resolved when we can conclude a process to use marijuana for medical and recreational purposes (for those who wish to do so); all accompanied by controls, preventive measures and clinical care,” said Zambrano Grijalva.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has said he opposes legalizing marijuana but welcomes a national dialogue on the issue. Separate from the Congressional debates just scheduled, Peña Nieto’s administration announced earlier this month that it would hold a series of five regional forums on cannabis policy.

But Zambrano Grijalva said legislators aren’t keen to wait around and let the executive branch dictate the country’s marijuana policies. “We must legislate with the greatest possible consensus considering the proposals of all sectors involved,” he said.

The lawmaker made a point to distinguish changing marijuana prohibition policies from actively encouraging people to consume cannabis. The debates don’t signal “a call to everybody to smoke marijuana just because he was legally permitted,” he said.

See the full list of schedule debate sessions and topics below, via Televisa.

DEBATE ON PROCESS CONTROL OF MARIJUANA

Opening of the public hearings and Second Meeting of the Technical Council for Regulatory Alternatives Marijuana

Monday, January 25, 9:30 a.m. -11am
Chamber of Deputies / Public Hearings:
Consumption regulation, self-production and human rights.
Analysis of free personality development and other fundamental rights.
Freedom, autonomy and self-reliance in auto production and consumption.
Right to protection of health outcomes and costs of prohibition on health and viability of cannabis treatments.
Comparative Perspective on the recognition of the right to self-produce and consume marijuana (judgments in Uruguay, Spain, Colombia, etc.)
Right to information and use of cannabis: what consumers have a right to know.

Monday, January 25, 11 a.m.-4: 00pm
Chamber of Deputies / Regulation in the international context:
Obligations of the Mexican state against the international regime.
Adjustments to regulatory frameworks.
Scope of the international regime of control.
Analysis and adoption of international best practices.

Tuesday, January 26, 9:00 a.m. – 1.00pm
Chamber of Deputies / Regulation in relation to the criminal policy and the penitentiary system:
Achievements and costs of the current policy.
Regulation amounts, quality, origin and destination at any stage of the production chain.
Procedural alternatives in terms of:
Addictions
Consumers
Narcomenudeo
Release, granted early release and commutation of sentences.
Social and labor reinsertion.

Wednesday, January 27, 9:00 a.m. -1.00 pm
Chamber of Deputies / Regulation regarding public safety:
Analysis, impact and costs of prohibitionist policies on public safety.
Analysis, impact and costs of regulation on public safety.
Black and customs control market.
Control policies.
Possible impacts on the dynamics of organized crime and drug trafficking.
Policies to prevent risky behaviors. (Violence, driving under the influence, etc.)

Thursday, January 28, 9:00 a.m. – 1.00pm
Chamber of Deputies / Regulation in relation to its medicinal or therapeutic use:
Regulating the production, quality and safeguards phytosanitary issues.
Scientific evidence of effectiveness and safety in the treatment of diseases.
Its use as an alternative treatment or drug substitution.

Tuesday, February 2, 3:30 pm – 7.30pm
Senate / Effects of marijuana on consumer health and public health:
1. Consumer Health:
Substance, consumer and context: the complexity of the interaction of variables on the impact of drugs on the body.
Immediate effects on the nervous, respiratory, cardiovascular, immune and psychological system.
Long-term effects and risks of prolonged use of marijuana.
Consumption patterns and health impacts.
Risk of increased consumption in vulnerable populations.
Proclivity impact and use of other substances: Marijuana as “gateway drug” and “drug-out”.
2. Public Health
Results, impact and costs of prohibitionist policies on public health.
What challenges for regular state involves the use of marijuana?
Programs and public health policies
Budgetary impacts and costs.
Technical, personnel and infrastructure.
Reclassification of marijuana in terms of its psychotropic effects.
Creating databases and defining objectives, goals, interventions and impacts allow continued evaluation to measure the effectiveness of public policies.
Unforeseen side effects.

Wednesday, February 3, 9:00 a.m. – 3.00pm
Senate / regulation of consumption in relation to the treatment of addictions:
Analysis of the current policy of containment or reduction addictions.
Potential dependence or addiction to marijuana.
Possible risks increased consumption.
Addiction potential of different substances and varieties.
Awareness campaigns for vulnerable groups.
Budget for the prevention of addiction treatment.
Possible effects on disease burden.

Thursday, February 4, 3:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Senate / Regulation concerning liability for damages against third parties:
Identification and analysis of actual and potential damage to third parties.
Scheme for civil, criminal, labor and administrative responsibility for a new regulation.

Tuesday, February 9, 3:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Chamber of Deputies / Regulation in relation to its sanitary control:
Results, analysis and costs of prohibitionist policies of disease control.
Safeguards phytosanitary issues and production quality
Classification of cannabis potency, defining measures establishing cannabis maximum concentration of THC in relation to the fundamental right to information.
Establish criteria for the operation and functioning of the clubs.
Establishment of powers, regulators and budget impact of a new regulation.

Wednesday, February 10, 9:00 a.m. – 1.00pm
Chamber of Deputies / proper regulation for production, distribution and sale of marijuana:
Production regulation for recreational purposes.
Possible models formal market regulation of marijuana.
Trade regulation (interior and exterior).
Possible lessons learned and today regulated substance (snuff and alcohol).
Regulation of advertising.

February 16, 3:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Senate / Design of public policy for the regulation of marijuana:
Definition of the public problem to be addressed.
Defining objectives and goals of a new public policy.
Analysis of costs and risks against the potential benefits.
Definition of interventions and mechanisms to achieve the goals and objectives.
Development of methods and tools of measurement, evaluation and monitoring.

Wednesday, February 17, 9am – 1.00pm
Senate / Closing of the Public Hearings

About Author

Tom Angell covers policy and politics for Marijuana.com. Separately, he serves as chairman of the nonprofit organization Marijuana Majority, which works to ensure that elected officials and the media treat legalization as a serious, mainstream issue. Marijuana Majority led the effort to get the U.S. Conference of Mayors to pass a resolution telling the federal government to respect state marijuana laws, and orchestrated the first-ever endorsement for marijuana legalization by a U.S. Supreme Court justice (John Paul Stevens). Previously, Tom worked for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy. (All organizations are listed for identification purposes only.)

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