Lawmakers from Mexico's left-wing Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) introduced legislation last week to decriminalize cannabis in an effort to curb cartel violence. One bill, introduced in the Federal Congress, builds on the partial decrim passed in 2009, increasing "personal use" quantities from five to 30 grams. It also includes provisions allowing for use of medical marijuana. Another bill in the Federal District's Legislative Assembly would instruct police and judges in Mexico City to deprioritize prosecution of cannabis violations. It would also create "tolerance zones," where cannabis could be sold openly, and "dissuasion commissions" to which violators could be assigned in lieu of criminal charges.
"We believe we’re making a very important contribution to a global debate that has to do with rethinking the issue of drugs," said Legislative Assembly member Vidal Llerenas. It is unclear whether the bills will be able to pass, given that PRD has only the third largest bloc in Mexico's congress. But there is growing hunger for alternatives to the "drug war" among Mexico's political crisis, as awareness grows of its futility and human cost. Since Mexico launched a crackdown on the drug cartels in 2006, relentless narco-violence has resulted in an estimated 70,000 deaths and 26,000 disappearances.