Mexican President Says State-Led Cannabis Legalization “Not On Our Agenda”

His comments are seemingly at odds with his own political party’s priorities.
Mexican President Says Cannabis Legalization "Not On Our Agenda"

With national expectations of impending cannabis legalization running high, Mexican President Andrés López Manuel Obrador lent his thoughts on Mexican legislative proposals to regulate recreational marijuana at his daily morning press conference on Thursday. The president told reporters that a state-run cannabis agency to distribute marijuana “is not on our agenda.”

Various plans to regulate cannabis have been presented by Mexican legislators since Sánchez Cordero’s November 2018 proposal. Earlier this month, Morena legislator Mario Delgado Carrillo introduced legislation that would entrust the Mexican government with the sale and distribution of cannabis. That plan was quickly criticized by Morena’s Senate leader Ricardo Monreal Ávila and AMLO himself at the Thursday morning press conference. 

“Everything in its own time,” AMLO said. “We’re going forward, little by little.” He continued; “We’re not currently dealing with this … It will be resolved strategically.”

AMLO’s implication of a longer timeline for cannabis legalization seemed at odds with those of members of his own Morena Party, who have indicated that a vote on marijuana legalization is imminent. Just yesterday, the president’s Secretary of Interior Olga Sánchez Cordero smiled and held aloft what sure looked like a joint on the floor of the Chamber of Deputies. The country’s Supreme Court has mandated that the Mexican legislature regulate marijuana by this month, and asked the Health Department to clarify regulations surrounding medical marijuana. Lawmakers have held a series of public sessions to solicit opinions on how legalization should look in Mexico.

But AMLO’s words this morning suggested that he does not share the rest of his government’s dedication to quickly instituting marijuana regulation.

“With all respect, we haven’t considered that,” he said at his daily early morning press event. “I’m not ruling it out, but it is not on our agenda. We are dealing with other important issues.”

AMLO Clarifies Priorities

AMLO mentioned health, labor issues, and problems affecting the nation’s young people as examples of his administration’s priorities that come before cannabis legalization. He also reminded reporters of an anti-drug addiction campaign that his administration launched this summer, in collaboration with various religious institutions.

The president did indicate, however, that if lawmakers do approve a legalization plan — even if it involves state-run distribution — his administration will cooperate.

Last year, Sánchez Cordero proposed the Morena Party’s first plan to legalize marijuana. Widely seen as one of the country’s leaders when it comes to cannabis legalization, she made headlines only yesterday when she accepted the gift of what looked like a joint on the floor of the Mexican Chamber of Deputies.

Sánchez Cordero was passed the unlit joint by independent legislator Ana Lucía Riojas Martínez, who was delivering a speech in favor of drug regulation as an alternative to the country’s creation of a new federal law enforcement branch.

“One step towards building peace would be legalizing the consumption of drugs, a proposal that you yourself made,” Riojas Martínez said, addressing Sánchez Cordero. “And so, to conclude my presentation, I’ve brought you a gift as reminder of the proposal that you made.”

She then handed Sánchez Cordero what appeared to be a joint, which the Minister of the Interior held aloft, smiling.

When asked about Sánchez Cordero’s support for cannabis legislation, AMLO merely told reporters that she is “responsible and a very good public servant and free. One of the characteristics of this government is that it guarantees the freedom of all to express themselves.”

CORRECTION (October 12, 2019): Though early media reports said AMLO’s “not on our agenda” comment was in reference to a question about cannabis legalization, later articles clarified that he had in fact been asked about the establishment of a federal agency to manage the sale and distribution of marijuana. The article’s headline and text have been changed to accurately reflect this, and High Times regrets the error. 

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