Mexico City - Mexico's lower house overwhelmingly passed a bill on Friday approving the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, the latest in a series of legal changes and court rulings that have somewhat relaxed cannabis laws in Mexico.
The bill was passed in December last year by the Mexican Senate, and on Friday was passed by the lower house by 371 votes to 7, with 11 abstentions. It will now be sent to President Peña Nieto's desk where it is expected to be signed.
"The ruling eliminates the prohibition and criminalization of acts related to the medicinal use of marijuana, and those relating to the production and distribution of the plant for these purposes," the lower house said in a statement.
Those permits have only covered the specific individuals involved, however, rather than blanket laws applicable to all of Mexican society.
OK for science, medicine
The Bill would also authorize cultivation of marijuana plants for medical and scientific purposes and establish that industrial products with concentrations of 1 percent THC or less would be legal to buy, sell, import and export.
Rep. Rosa Alba Ramirez of the small Citizens' Movement party noted that, "this is not opening the door for a general and unchecked consumption because it includes measures so the health department can ensure it is not being abused or distorted to widen it to recreational use."
Rep. Arturo Alvarez of the Green Party said "this is a step in the right direction of exploring new alternatives of regulated, legalized and supervised use of marijuana, and can open up a new front for authorities to combat addictions and the violence that arises from the illicit activities of drug-growing, trafficking and consumption."
Marijuana for recreational purposes still remains illegal, and forcing full legalization is likely to be difficult in the politically and socially conservative Catholic country.Sources: The Hindu • Telesur TV