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Mexican Lawmakers Debate Marijuana Legalization

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Amid continuing drug-cartel violence, Mexico’s Congress has convened a three-day debate to discuss the merits of legalizing marijuana for personal use in Mexico, the Associated Press reported April 13.

Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon has expressed his opposition to legalizing marijuana; however three former Latin America presidents — Cesar Gaviria of Colombia, Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico, and Fernando Cardoso of Brazil — have urged countries in the region to consider legalizing the drug to help extinguish a major source of revenue for the drug cartels.

The congressional debate is confronting an issue “that had been taboo” in Mexico, said Democratic Revolution Party lawmaker Javier Gonzalez; his opposition party supports legalizing personal marijuana consumption. “What we don’t want is to criminalize youths for consuming or possessing marijuana,” he said.

Interior Department official Blanca Heredia said that while the current prohibition policy “has not been a solution for all ills,” it would be “illusory to imagine that complete legalization of marijuana would be a panacea.” Heredia said the number of Mexicans who have tried drugs rose from 3.5 million in 2002 to 4.5 million in 2008, while the number of addicts rose from 307,000 to an estimated 465,000.

Mexico’s Congress is not considering specific proposals, and the debate will not directly result in legislative action. The lawmakers said they want to hear various viewpoints before they begin considering any legislation for legalizing marijuana. 

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