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Mexico's Cultural War on Drugs Takes a Major Step Forward

Created: 22 June, 2017
Updated: 17 October, 2022
2 min read

Mexico has decriminalized marijuana for both medicinal and research purposes.

About two months ago, Mexican legislators approved the proposal by an overwhelming majority in both chambers. President Enrique Peña Nieto published the law in the “Diario Oficial de la Federación” Thursday, which officially brought the bill into effect.

Mexico’s new law decriminalizes the consumption and cultivation of marijuana for both medicinal and research purposes, as well as production and distribution with the same intent. Legislators expect the law will help introduce new therapy and treatments for health issues such as cancer and multiple sclerosis.   

A Conservative Culture

To better understand the impact of Mexican legislators legalizing the consumption of medical marijuana, you have to understand Mexican society.

Mexico is in general a conservative, catholic, patriarchal society, which for years and years has resisted addressing some liberal issues like abortion, gay marriage, and drug consumption.

Even though the country has had a strict separation of Church and State policy since the times of Benito Juarez, the Church still plays a strong role in education – with some of the biggest private educational institutions being controlled by religious organizations – and as such, it has a major role on social issues.

Mexico's War on Drugs

Most importantly, Mexico has fought a long, costly, and deadly battle against drugs. Mexico’s role has evolved from being a transit country, where the flow of narcotics moved from South and Central America, to having some of the most powerful drug organizations in the world.

While the citizens of Mexico are not a traditional consumer society, the more restrictive border controls implemented at the US-Mexico crossing have caused the Mexican cartels to create a consumer market inside the country. It's a phenomenon that has boosted this need to legally regulate drug consumption.

Even though Mexico’s lawmakers took a big step by legalizing the use of medical marijuana, it is highly unlikely they will consider legalizing its use for recreational purposes anytime soon.

Photo Credit: Lukasz Stefanski / shutterstock.com