MEXICO CITY, Mexico (AFP) – Mexican lawmakers and experts yesterday began a first debate on the legalisation of marijuana as part of a possible strategy to tackle the country’s powerful drug cartels.
The five-day forum takes place with the death toll from the country’s drug violence at around 7,000 people killed since the start of last year in mounting attacks amid a military crackdown on the cartels launched by President Felipe Calderon.
Discussions will focus on the possible impact of cannabis legalisation on drug violence and public health and drug consumption, the opposition Social Democratic Party, which supports decriminalisation, said in a statement.
The debate starts two months before legislative elections and three days ahead of a visit to Mexico by US President Barack Obama, in which Mexico‘s drug cartels are likely to be top of the agenda.
Mexico‘s Congress three years ago passed a bill decriminalising possession of small amounts of drugs intended for recreational use but, following pressure from the United States, then president Vicente Fox sent the legislation back.
Calderon’s government has signalled that it wants to decriminalize small possession of drugs.