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Top lawmakers from Mexico's leading political parties joined together in mid-March 2019 to kick off what could be a lengthy process to formally decriminalize marijuana in line with recent court rulings.

No new concrete legislation beyond past proposals has yet emerged from the talks, and there is no immediate timeline for when reform could become law in what senators said would be a “gradual” process, according to press reports.

Still, the Marijuana Regulation Forum on March 13, 2019, was a small but symbolically significant step towards drug reform in Mexico, where prohibition-fueled violence has destabilized entire regions and led to tens of thousands of deaths, some in unspeakably gruesome acts.

Whatever emerges will “not … criminalize those who are innocent and those who personally consume” cannabis, said National Regeneration Movement (Morena) Sen. Martha Lucia Micher, according to Mexico City-based newspaper Excélsior.

The meeting follows a series of rulings from Mexico's top court culminating in several cases in 2018 that established national precedent, which stipulated that criminalizing possession and cultivation of small amounts of cannabis is a violation of the country's Constitution.

It also, not insignificantly, follows drastic movements toward marijuana reform in the United States and Canada, Mexico's top two trading partners.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, founder of Morena, has approached the prospect of legalization with an open mind, and not just with respect to marijuana. He suggested during his presidential campaign that ending prohibition could mitigate drug market violence in the country. And after his election in late 2018, his administration announced that cabinet members would meet with Canadian government officials to discuss the regulation of cannabis.

Top lawmakers from Mexico's leading political parties began a lengthy process to formally decriminalize marijuana in line with recent court rulings.

The idea that marijuana legalization could curb violence is shared by Olga Sánchez Cordero, Mexico's secretary of the interior. Before she formally joined the administration, she said the country doesn't “want more deaths” and that legalization “will be a major contribution to bringing peace to our beloved country.”

As a senator, she formally filed cannabis legalization legislation.

“Canada already decriminalized, and [marijuana is] decriminalized in several states of the United States. What are we thinking?” Sánchez Cordero said in an interview in 2018. “We are going to try to move forward.”

Mexico's Senate in February 2019 released a report meant to inform lawmakers as they consider legalization legislation. It drew from the experience of other countries as well as published research to build a case for a regulated, commercial cannabis market.

It's unclear how much appetite there will among Mexican lawmakers be for a Canada-style coast-to-coast legalization proposal with regulated and taxed sales in privately owned dispensaries, in contrast to a model closer to Uruguay's, where pharmacies are allowed to sell small amounts of the drug.

But according to Morena Sen. Ricardo Monreal, the “political will” exists to craft and pass legislation that would allow for state-regulated cannabis cultivation, testing, processing, and sales.


This article has been republished from Marijuana Moment under a content syndication agreement. Read the original article here.