Mondragón, Torres express opposing views about marijuana decriminalization

Manuel Mondragón y Kalb, National Commissioner against Addictions, and Juan Francisco Torres Landa, lawyer and founding member of the NGO SMART, present their arguments about the subject.

Manuel Mondragón y Kalb (left), National Commissioner against Addictions, and Juan Francisco Torres Landa (right) awyer and founding member of the NGO SMART. (Photo: Archive / EL UNIVERSAL)
English 23/11/2015 13:22 Newsroom Actualizada 13:30
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Manuel Mondragón y Kalb, National Commissioner against Addictions, said that the changes to regulate or liberalize marijuana consumption, not only for medical uses but also for recreational purposes, should take into consideration its impact on public health.

He explained that marijuana causes psychological, neurological and physiological damages in different parts of the human body, alters learning processes and productivity, leads to absenteeism and can produce psychotic symptoms, apart from damaging the quality of life, family life and society. He added that neurological, psychological and conduct damages can sometimes be irreversible.

According to evidence quoted by Mondragón, 9% of the people who try marijuana become addicted to it. The figure increases to one in seven for those who start using it when they are teenagers, and to between 25% and 50% among those who smoke it every day.

He added that even though its use is not associated to direct deaths, marijuana addiction is the second cause of losing healthy years of life compared to other drugs, and that authorities should determine how can seeds be obtained, how many plants a person should be allowed to possess, forbid its distribution among children, what happens if someone gets to work under its effects, how to limit the risk of consumers who drive or use heavy equipment and how to control the THC concentration level.

In Mexico people are allowed to carry up to 5 grams (0.17 ounces) of marijuana, though its production and commercialization is forbidden.

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Juan Francisco Torres Landa, lawyer and founding member of the NGO Mexican Society for a Responsible and Tolerant Self-Consumption (SMART), said that the ruling of Mexico's Supreme Court on November 4, 2015 recognized that the right of citizens to decide is above the restrictive provisions of the General Health Law.

He explained that now the constitutional basis of the prohibitionist policy has been second guessed, we can reflect on its effects and if its existence is justified. He added that the evidence of its direct and collateral damages is so abundant that it should soon disappear.

According to Torres, the purpose of the initiative is that the State retakes the control of the drugs market, that should have never been left to criminals, so that the government determines the optimal rules to authorize certain types of non-problematic consumption, with restrictions for underage people, hours, places, quality, quantity, etc.

Torres considers that the subject should be addressed as a health problem instead of a public security issue.

“We should acknowledge that a large part of the security, justice and legality disaster in Mexico is due to this prohibitionist policy, that has been the basis of a multimillionaire business for drug traffickers and has not produced a single benefit," he added.

To those who oppose marijuana decriminalization, Torres said that the availability, variety and supply of drugs are at a record high, with dealers everywhere without concern for citizens. He said that decriminalizing marijuana would be the first step of many, including the gradual elimination of any kind of prohibition, always accompanied by a sound, scientific and socially-viable sanitary policy, and that this would weaken the financial structure of criminals and strengthen the power of authorities.

(Translation into English: Giselle Rodríguez)

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