Five reforms would be required to legalize marijuana in Mexico

Experts consulted by EL UNIVERSAL said that the General Health Law, the Civil Code, the Penal Code and Federal Labor Law would need to be changed.

(Photo: Reuters)
English 25/11/2015 11:23 Doris Gómora Actualizada 11:38

Legalizing the production and distribution of marijuana in Mexico would involve changing at least five federal laws, as well as other regulations and norms that require the participation of the Legislative power, specialists said.

Asked by EL UNIVERSAL, experts agreed that if marijuana is legalized for medical or recreational purposes, it would be necessary to change the General Health Law and its respective regulations as well as the Civil Code for cases of child custody, the Penal Code in order to release inmates sentenced for using marijuana as well as the Federal Labor Law, for dismissals or accidents under its effects.

"The first step is to legalize marijuana for medical uses, it is the fastest and we have institutions that could work more closely on the changes, that are not only legal. Regulation is very important, but you can not leave everything to a general law," said Gerardo Rodríguez, academic coordinator of the Center of Studies on Impunity and Justice of the University of the Americas (UDLA) Puebla campus.

According to Rodríguez, the Federal Commission for Protection against Sanitary Risks (COFEPRIS), has experience in regulation and could propose the legislation, first for medical purposes.

He explained that it would be necessary to determine what marijuana derivatives can be commercialized, the percentage or content of marijuana in medicines and the cases in which it can be prescribed, among other issues. That is why a debate organized by the State is necessary so that experts from different areas participate in it.

"The first thing would be to determine which distributors are approved by the COFEPRIS, and I think we could use as a model some U.S. cities” that have gone through the same process, Rodríguez added.

He said that the Cofepris and the legislators will have to work on and follow up the bill submitted by Senator Cristina Díaz to regulate marijuana for medicinal use.

Miguel Carbonell, of the Institute of Legal Research of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), said that "the personal use of drugs has to be addressed from a public health perspective rather than a criminal one.”

Juan Antonio Le Clercq, Head of the Department of International Relations and Political Sciences of the UDLA, said that the government will also have to change the Law of Revenues and Expenditures in order to allot resources to combat addictions and consider taxing marijuana production.

He added that if personal consumption is legalized and the national Penal Code is reformed, people in jail for using marijuana would have to be freed and sent to treatment centers.

Samuel González, national security consultant, said that “child custody cases because the father or the mother used marijuana, layoffs of employees working under the influence or accidents caused by its effects as well as the rejection of job applicants for admitting being marijuana users are issues that have not been considered after the ruling of the Supreme Court of Justice” on November 4, 2015 authorizing four people to use marijuana for recreational purposes.

"For now we could import marijuana pills for medical use the next year, but recreational marijuana implies a wider process," he added.

(Translation into English: Giselle Rodríguez)