This past weekend the first US-Mexico Symposium on Legalization of Medical Marijuana Use was held at the Vicente Fox Center in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico. Convened by former President, Vicente Fox, this event signaled an additional dialogue route on drug policy reform.
During the event, specialists with a diverse set of expertise from the US and Mexico, provided information on the opportunities and challenges involved in different forms of regulation regarding access and use of cannabis.
Among the most knowledgeable presenters was Alison Holcomb, author of Initiative 502 in Washington State, which regulates the cannabis. Alison noted that there is a need to regulate production licenses that must be accompanied by established consumption regulations for personal use and that these quantities must be appropriate to the realities of the market. Steph Sherer, head of Americans for Safe Access, highlighted that in the United States there are a million patients using cannabis, a growing trend that comes from the increase of therapeutic use in California that occurred during the 80s, when the country faced the spread of the HIV virus and patients began to use it to reduce nausea food and improve their quality of life.
On the Mexican side, Lisa Sanchez of Mexico United Against Crime, highlighted the different forms of corporate regulation in the world and the many possibilities from which Mexico could choose to regulate. Julio Frenk, Former Health Minister with the Fox Administration elaborated on the possibilities of the medical use of marijuana and the need for research in the field. He also emphasized that a primary result of the current drug policy (and the homicide epidemic it has unleashed) has been a decrease of one year in life expectancy.
The Ambassador of the Netherlands, Hogewoning Dolf, also participated and in addition to detailing the Dutch model and the benefits of controlling hard drugs, he shared that the Netherlands has lower drug use than the European average. He described closing coffee shops in southern Netherlands, due to stricter regulations to decrease “drug tourism,” however he stressed that these municipalities autonomous decision should not be seen as a return to prohibition but as a reinforcement of the regulation. He also emphasized that increased with these increased restrictions, the municipalities have experienced crime increases, and a strengthening of the black market---leading to a suspension of the policy.
Participants from CuPIHD noted the need to include users in the discussions and to remember that there are specific rights within the Mexican law. CuPIHD also called on legislators to eliminate ambiguities in the decriminalization of drug possession, which exists in the Small Scale Drug Trafficking Law. CuPIHD shared their position regarding the commercial plant cultivation which was proposed by former President, Fox, and which we believe prioritizes business development over the need to guarantee user rights, access to information and efficient health services.
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