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US Lawmakers Discuss Marijuana Legalization With New Mexican President’s Team

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Two U.S. House members and one senator who participated in a recent congressional delegation to Mexico discussed marijuana legalization with officials from that country’s incoming presidential administration.

Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who was elected in July and is set to take office on December 1, is expected to seriously considering ending cannabis prohibition as well as broader drug policy reforms, one of his key advisors has said.

“During the campaign, he talked about legalizing marijuana. That is an issue that is important to them. They think they are wasting a lot of law enforcement resources on marijuana,” Congressman Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX), told told the Rio Grande Guardian newspaper upon returning from the trip to Mexico. “We have 37 states in the United States where it is legal in one form or another. So, the tide seems to be moving in that direction and I think Mexico wants to address it on a federal level.”

Olga Sánchez Cordero, who is López Obrador’s pick for interior secretary‏, is pushing the president-elect on cannabis and drug policy reform.

“Canada already decriminalized, and [marijuana is] decriminalized in several states of the United States. What are we thinking?” she said in a recent interview. “We are going to try to move forward.”

Gonzalez, along with Congressman Ruben Kihuen (D-NV) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), met with with Alfonso Romo, who is López Obrador’s chief of staff, during their visit to Mexico.

“[W]e had a congressman from Nevada who was able to talk about his experiences now, with marijuana being legal in the state of Nevada, recreationally legal,” Gonzalez said, referring to Kihuen. “Apparently, they have raised $10 billion in taxes this year alone and that money is being used for education.”

“So, not everyone may agree with [legalizing marijuana] immediately but we need to address it somehow,” Gonzalez said. “Obviously, the current policy that has been in place for decades now has not worked. We are spending a lot of money on drug enforcement and right now we have some major issues with opioids, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, other types of pharmaceuticals that are flown across the border and when we are stopping marijuana we are using resources that could maybe used to address some of these heavy drugs.”

Where Mexico’s Next President Stands On Marijuana

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Tom Angell is the editor of Marijuana Moment. A 20-year veteran in the cannabis law reform movement, he covers the policy and politics of marijuana. Separately, he founded the nonprofit Marijuana Majority. Previously he reported for Marijuana.com and MassRoots, and handled media relations and campaigns for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

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