While most Mexicans favor legalizing cannabis, lawmakers are still concerned about a lack of mental health and addiction services in the country. Because of this, the Chamber of Deputies temporarily put legalization on hold for now.
“I am openly in favor (of legalization). I have no prejudice; people can do what they want with their lives and their bodies. But I am worried about public health,” said Congressman Francisco Villarreal Pasaret of Chihuahua.
Mexico has been leaning more and more heavily towards legalization, as other nations and states embrace it with success. However, some feel that the country is not ready to take that next step.
“In Mexico, we have a lag in mental health services. We don’t have enough hospitals or treatment centers. […] this initiative must be accompanied by greater funding for mental health,” added Villarreal, who represents the Morena Party.
Government research shows that more than two million people in the country struggle with drug addiction, and 23,000 of those people are minors. The combination of illicit crime stemming from drug cartels and demand for drugs in the US, as well as lack of healthcare resources, has proven to be harmful for many.
While Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has developed a strategy to target schools, community centers and other places that could make an impact on addicts, he feels that more is needed. “We must have more funding for addiction treatment. I think this is what people want, but it doesn’t make sense for (lawmakers) to say, ‘we’re open, we’re liberal,’ and on the other hand to ignore public health consequences,” Obrador said.
Until Mexico can get a better handle on addiction and mental health resources, legalized cannabis may have to remain on hold.