Latin America’s biggest city joins the wave of cannabis reforms sweeping the region
Mexico City, February 13th 2014. Today, at 10am local time, Mexico City submitted bills to both the Local House and the Federal Congress of Mexico that, if passed, will decriminalise the possession of small quantities of cannabis for personal use.
The move is being backed by four former Latin American presidents (PDF), all of whom are members of the Global Commission on Drug Policy: Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former president of Brazil; Ernesto Zedillo, former president of Mexico; César Gaviria, former president of Colombia; and Ricardo Lagos, former president of Chile.
The bills are the result of lengthy discussions that began last summer, when the ALDF (Local House) organised a series of public hearings to explore alternative policies aimed at addressing the city's drug problem. Staff from the Latin American Drug Policy Programme run by México Unido Contra la Delincuencia (MUCD) and Transform Drug Policy Foundation (TDPF) co-organised and spoke at the hearings. After six months of work, the technical group in charge of the drafting process – which consisted of lawyers, health practitioners, security advisers and drug policy experts – finalised the two bills that were presented this morning.
The first bill, which will be submitted to the Local House of Representatives, seeks to:
- Decriminalise the possession of small quantities of cannabis for personal use;
- Separate the cannabis market from the market for other illicit drugs; and
- Reduce drug-related harm through the introduction of a Harm Reduction Information System that will promote safer sales.
The second bill, which will be submitted to the Federal House of Representatives, focuses on reforming federal laws in order to:
- Increase the current quantity thresholds for legal cannabis possession from 5g to 30g;
- Allow prescriptions of medical cannabis; and
- Decentralise decision-making powers on drug policy to the state level.
Lisa Sánchez of MUCD and TDPF said:
"We welcome this attempt to replace stringent cannabis law enforcement with humane, just and effective alternatives. Decades of punitive responses have failed to reduce levels of use and have effectively left the market in the hands of criminal entrepreneurs whose watchwords are violence and greed. This is a great opportunity for the government to adopt a new approach to drugs and improve the health and safety of its citizens. Let’s not waste it."
Notes to editors
Transform Drug Policy Foundation is an international, charitable think tank with staff in the UK and Mexico. We are working to get drugs under control by advocating for strict regulation of all aspects of the drug trade. We aim to equip policy makers and reform advocates with the tools they need to fundamentally change our current approach to drugs and create a healthier, safer world.
UK - Lisa Sánchez, Latin American Programme Manager: +44 (0)747 2991462