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Marijuana, the road to legality

Adopting measures that regulate consumption seems like an irreversible trend
Photo: File photo/EL UNIVERSAL
Juan Francisco Torres Landa R.
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Cannabis has been subject of controversy because the prohibitions of all the activities related to its use have been established in several international treaties such as the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the Convention on Psychotropic Substances, the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, which have been adopted in the domestic laws of many countries.

However, the lack of success in criminalizing these behaviors, coupled with technological advances, has generated evidence that forces to rethink the usefulness and importance of cannabis in medicine, the industry, and for personal use. It is already legal in Brazil, Canada, Croatia, North Korea, Denmark, the United States, Israel, Jamaica, Mexico, Portugal, Puerto Rico, United Kingdom, Czech Republic and Uruguay. We can confirm that the adoption of measures that allow diverse uses of cannabis seems irreversible.

Germany approved medical cannabis earlier this year and seeks to incorporate it into the coverage framework offered by insurers and the public health service.

The lack of regulation in the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic has hampered access to this drug.

Regarding cultivation, up to five plants are allowed in the Netherlands and in the Czech Republic about 0,35 ounces (10 grams).

In Chile, after the approval of the Law 20.000, patients who require medical cannabis can import Sativex or have their own plant.

The regulatory process in Argentina and Peru has derived mainly from the active participation of civil society.

Colombia, through the Law 1.787, created a regulatory framework for medical and scientific access to cannabis. The State will have control of the market and will grant licenses to private individuals.

The case of Jamaica has a completely different approach. It recognizes the use for religious or sacramental purposes in adherence to the customs and traditions of the Rastafarian community.

The United States has 29 states that allow the medicinal use of cannabis and nine states in which personal use has been legalized. In Canada, there are about 44 licensed producers authorized by the Ministry of Health.

Uruguay has been the first country in the world to legalize marijuana for medical and scientific use as well as recreational purposes.

There are studies in the United States on the consequences of regulation: they conclude that marijuana legalization had a moderate to zero impact on consumption among young people; the legalization of marijuana for personal use among adults contributed in all states to the radical decrease in the number of arrests for possession, cultivation, and distribution of cannabis; and the legalization of marijuana has successfully contributed to the generation of income for the state governments and municipalities.

In the case of Mexico, the possession of up to 0,17 ounces (5 grams) of cannabis for personal consumption is not punished with imprisonment; however, to the third recurrence, a treatment for addiction is mandatory.

The changes in Mexican law, unlike other countries, have been driven by two trials. The first recognized the existence of the "right to free development of personality" and the declaration that there can not be an invasion to the intimacy of a person in such personal activities as the consumption of substances for recreational purposes.

The second trial recognized the right to have access to medicines derived from cannabis despite being a prohibited substance. In order to guarantee the right to health, it ordered the authorities to provide the means for the acquisition of the drug.

Thus, the medical use of cannabis was approved on June 19 and the laws recognized its therapeutic use and ordered a regulation to have access to this treatment. However, the corresponding amendments to the secondary laws are yet to be made.

We believe that this reform has been limited on many fronts. By delineating the type of products that can be legally used, the reform deprived patients of individually preparing oils, ointments, and macerations; it did not allow the growth of personal plants, as well as the access to safe sources of supply such as dispensaries; finally, the reform lost the opportunity to remove from the catalog of offenses the planting, cultivation, and harvesting of cannabis for medical and scientific purposes.

Secretary General of the Council of Mexico United Against Crime


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