This week, legislators from the Mexican Congress and the Mexico City Assembly will be in DC and NY to discuss the bills they introduced to decriminalize the consumption and purchase of marijuana for personal use in Mexico City and to legalize medical marijuana countrywide. Mexico City Senator Mario Delgado and Mexico City Assembly member Vidal Llerenas, both from the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD), will be in DC on March 24 and 25 and in NY on March 26 to discuss the aims of the marijuana reform proposals in Mexico.
The central aim of these initiatives is to provide the groundwork for alternative policies to the current punitive approach, which results in widespread criminalization and incarceration of people who use drugs in Mexico. Since Mexico's drug war escalated in 2006, at least 80,000 people have been killed in prohibition-related violence. The bills build on the spirit of progressive reforms passed in Mexico City in recent years, which broaden the rights and freedoms of Mexico City's citizens (which include the legalization of abortion, the recognition of same-sex marriages, same-sex adoptions, strict tobacco control laws, and universal pension for elder citizens, among others).
Senator Delgado will also participate on a panel on the Decriminalization of Marijuana in Mexico City: an Alternative to the War on Drugs? together with Jose Miguel Insulza, Secretary General of the Organization of American States, Professor Alejandro Madrazo of the CIDE Law School in Mexico, and DC Councilmember Mary Cheh. The forum will take place at the Georgetown University Law Center on Tuesday, March 25 from 3:30 to 5:30pm.
The Mexican legislators and Professor Madrazo are available to share with NY and DC press the motivations behind these marijuana reform bills, the legal and policy changes they seek, and how these bills are part of a broader debate in the hemisphere about the negative effects of current drug policy on Latin American countries and a the need for a serious analysis about potential alternatives.
Political will for a major overhaul of global drug policy has been gaining unprecedented momentum, both in the U.S. and abroad. Distinguished leaders such as Kofi Annan, Paul Volcker and Richard Branson have joined with former presidents of Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Greece, Mexico, Poland and Switzerland and other members of the Global Commission on Drug Policy in calling for alternatives to the war on drugs.
More recently, current presidents Juan Manuel Santos in Colombia, Otto Perez Molina in Guatemala, and José Mujica in Uruguay have joined these calls for reform. In May, the Organization of American States produced a report, commissioned by heads of state of the region, that included marijuana legalization as a likely policy alternative. Late last year, Uruguay became the first country in the world to legally regulate the production, distribution and sale of marijuana.
In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first political jurisdictions in the world to legally regulate marijuana. Earlier this month, the mayor of Washington, DC, signed into law the nation's most far-reaching marijuana decriminalization policy.