On Friday, Mexico’s lower-house Chamber of Deputies approved a bill to allow use, production and distribution of cannabis for medical and scientific purposes. The vote was an overwhelming 371 in favor and seven against with 11 abstentions.
The legislation was already approved by the Mexican Senate in December and now goes to the desk of President Enrique Peña Nieto for his signature. The passage follows a national debate on the question in the media and various social forums across the country.
The text of the bill calls on the Secretary of Health to develop a regulatory framework for medical use of cannabis, while effectively freeing products that contain CBD but less than one percent THC from government control.
A family in Mexico’s northern industrial hub of Monterrey became a symbol of the medical marijuana fight last year when the parents of a young epileptic girl won a court battle to import CBD oil to ease her daily seizures. The girl’s father, Raúl Elizalde, told AFP that the legislation represents “great progress.”
In a separate case, Mexico’s Supreme Court in November 2015 authorized four people to grow and smoke cannabis for recreational purposes, finding this right protected by the constitutional guarantee of “free development of the personality.”
Although Peña Nieto opposes a general legalization of cannabis, he has broached an increase in the quantity decriminalized for personal use to 28 grams (about an ounce) from the current five grams. Speaking at a UN special session on the drug war in April 2016, Peña Nieto did say drug use should be addressed as a “public health problem” and users should not be criminalized.