Three Mexican researchers seek permission to grow and use marijuana

Herminia Pasantes, Luis Alonso Lemus and Francisco Fernández de Miguel of the Institute of Cellular Physiology will follow the same legal strategy used by SMART.

If COFEPRIS rejects their request, they will file an appeal before Mexico's Supreme Court of Justice. (Photo: Alejandra Leyva / EL UNIVERSAL)
English 30/11/2015 11:37 Cristina Pérez-Stadelmann Actualizada 12:41
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Three renowned neurobiologists, one of them a drug researcher at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), requested permission to grow and use marijuana in order to establish jurisprudence in Mexico on the subject.

The decision of Mexico's Supreme Court of Justice to authorize four people to grow and use marijuana motivated Herminia Pasantes, professor emeritus of the Institute of Cellular Physiology, as well as Luis Alonso Lemus and Francisco Fernández de Miguel of the same institute, to start the legal process.

They requested permission to the Federal Commission for Protection against Sanitary Risks (COFEPRIS) and will wait between one and three months to get a reply. If their request is rejected, they will file an appeal at the Supreme Court, the same legal strategy used by the Mexican Society for Responsible and Tolerant Self-Consumption (SMART).

Pasantes, specialized in the study of drugs, said that with this she seeks to protect the right to decide.

"No legal or illegal drug is completely harmless, but there are differences between their harmful effects," Pasantes said.

"In principle I am against drug addiction because addictions turn individuals into slaves. However, only inhalants cause neuronal death. Other drugs, like amphetamines and cocaine, cause behavioral changes that can lead to psychotic episodes, but this never happens with marijuana, that does not damage the brain," she explained.

"It somehow reduces the learning capacity of children and teenagers, but not in adults. It has been said that marijuana produces neuronal death; this is incorrect. I think marijuana is much less harmful than alcohol or tobacco," Pasantes added.

Francisco Fernández de Miguel, Phd in neuroscience and researcher at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), says that decisions should be based on scientific knowledge and not on a failed prohibitionism, which in his opinion has led to spiraling violence.

"Marijuana does harm children and young consumers, but in adults the damage is minimal. Plus, alcohol is 15 times riskier than marijuana," Fernández said.

"The problem of marijuana is infinitely smaller than smoking and alcoholism from a health perspective. I am not a consumer, neither do I plan to become one, but I am worried about the course of the country; as scientists we have a social responsibility to participate,” he added.

Luis Alonso Sandoval Lemus, PhD in neuroscience who works for the same institute, considers that new strategies need to be applied "because the ones used so far against drug trafficking are a disaster.”

“As human beings we have the right to do whatever we want with our bodies; therefore, as an adult I can decide if I want to use drugs or not. As for marijuana, it harms children and youngsters, but for adults there are no proofs; in fact it is a medicinal drug," he said.

"I believe nothing should be forbidden, because prohibition is the mother of all misfortunes. It should be a matter of education and information, not imposition. So far 17 people have followed the same legal strategy used by SMART, with the same lawyers, and I hope that we achieve the four victories required to establish jurisprudence”, Sandoval added.

Even though Lemus admitted having tried marijuana, he said he is not interested in it and in any case, it has not been proven that marijuana causes addiction”.

(Translation into English: Giselle Rodríguez)



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