Mexico’s New President Open to Opium Sale, Marijuana Decriminalization

Mexico’s new president is open to the idea of opium sale and marijuana decriminalization, a senior aide said on Wednesday.

The leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador won Mexico’s presidency in a landslide victory on Sunday. Obrador said he is open-minded when it comes to drug policy including the sale of opium and exploring the decriminalization of marijuana for recreational use.

“Why not sell it to pharmaceutical companies?” said Olga Sanchez, the president-elect’s pick to run the Interior Ministry, Telesur TV reported on Wednesday.

Sanches, a former Supreme Court judge, said Obrador, a 64-year-old former mayor of Mexico City, also backed a public consultation on the possibility of regulating opium and decriminalizing marijuana.

Sanchez said it didn’t make any sense for Mexican authorities to engage in a violent struggle against marijuana when Canada and several US states have already relaxed their policies on cannabis.

She told W Radio:

“What are we thinking? Tell me. Killing ourselves. Really, keep on killing when… North America is decriminalizing?”
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Sanchez, however, said marijuana decriminalization should be done in parallel to rehabilitation programs and strict punishments for anyone selling drugs to children.

Mexico’s new president open to opium sale, marijuana decriminalization
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador talks to former Supreme Court Judge Olga Sanchez Cordero after a floral tribute to mark the 212th anniversary of the birth of president Benito Juarez, at the Hemiciclo a Juarez monument in Mexico City, Mexico March 21, 2018. (File image via Reuters)

Permission from UN

For Mexico to grow and export opium poppies for painkillers, it needs to get a permission from the UN’s body on drugs, International Narcotics Control Board (INCB).

If Mexico succeeds in regulating opium poppy farming for morphine production, it won’t be the first country to do so. Turkey and India, among other countries, have already done that.

After winning more than half of Mexico’s votes, Obrador’s coalition is expected to have a majority in Congress, projections show, ending 89 years of rule by just two parties.

This will give Obrador a clout to be able to change Mexico’s drug policies.

While Obrador did not take an explicit stance on decriminalizing drugs before the July 1 election, he said will try out new approaches to combat Mexico’s violence, including possible amnesty for some cartel employees.

Drug violence in Mexico has killed nearly 30,000 last year.

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