Chatham House

President of Mexico Supports Medical Cannabis Legalization

In an about face from his previously vocalized opinions, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said on Tuesday that he is open to the idea of medical cannabis legalization in Mexico, and that government officials would be announcing new measures that reflect this change of heart in the coming days.

Peña Nieto’s announcement was made in a speech given at the United Nations General Assembly on international drug policy, which is taking place this week in New York. “I am giving voice to those who have … expressed the necessity of changing the regulatory framework to authorize the use of marijuana for medical and scientific purposes,” he said. Drug use should be addressed as a “public health problem,” he said — not as a criminal offense.

“We should be flexible to change that which has not yielded results, the paradigm based essentially in prohibitionism, the so-called ‘War on Drugs’ … [which] has not been able to limit production, trafficking nor the global consumption of drugs,” said Peña Nieto.

Peña Nieto had been previously outspoken against any reform of Mexico’s marijuana laws, though mounting pressure from the public, as well as a Supreme Court ruling from late last year that established a legal right to the cultivation and personal consumption of medical cannabis, have apparently eroded his opposition.

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