Mexico is getting ready to legalise medical marijuana, announced Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto at the special UN session in New York.  The special session was called to focus on the global drug problem.

Nieto, known for his uncompromising stand on drugs and the war on drug lords in his country, surprised all with the announcement. He said he is in favour of legalizing cannabis for medicinal use and would raise the amount of marijuana for decriminalized personal consumption, reports Bloomberg.

“I give voice to those who have expressed the need to update the regulatory framework to authorize the use of marijuana for medical and scientific ends,” the President said.

According to UN, Mexico’s drug war has left more than 150,000 people dead and 26,000 people are missing since 2006. For drug cartels, marijuana has been a significant source of illicit revenue.

Dubbing drug use as a public health problem, Nieto urged for policies that could avoid punishing users. He said an event will be held to discuss Mexico’s marijuana policy change.

Observers note that public pressure had been growing for the legalization of marijuana in Mexico after the Supreme Court’s decision in November that allowed four people to grow cannabis at home.

Since then, the debate has been raging nationwide. Forums in Mexico had been exhorting marijuana use for medical purposes. The government’s thinking was articulated by a senator from Nieto’s ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, who said a bill permitting the use of medical marijuana would be approved by May, reports Reuters.

In 2015, Colombia gave the nod for use of medical marijuana.
The pro-cannabis shift also gets inspiration from the US, where two dozen states have legalized medical marijuana use. The cannabis is actually quite legal for recreational use in Washington and Colorado.

Vanda Felbab-Brown, of Brookings Institution in Washington, welcomed it and said: “It’s good because it reduces violence against users and it reduces users’ exposure to the criminal justice system.”