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Mexico Takes First Step Toward Legalizing Marijuana

Mexico’s future secretary of the interior proposed legislation in the Senate on Thursday to regulate marijuana and allow its production and sale, a potential major shift in the country’s decade-long drug war.

Sen. Olga Sanchez, who is President-Elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s expected pick for interior secretary, presented the bill, giving a speech to her colleagues that focused on the violence the country has seen since the war on drug trafficking was launched in 2006. Some 240,000 people have been killed and 40,000 have been disappeared, she said.  

“We don’t want any more bodies, whether it’s police, military or drug traffickers,” Sanchez said before the Senate. “We don’t want any more bloodshed, and we don’t want any more families in mourning.”

The proposal has the backing of Lopez Obrador's Morena party, which has a majority in both chambers of Congress. Members of the center-right opposition PRI party responded that legalizing marijuana wouldn’t stop organized criminal groups from committing violent acts.

Jorge Valencia was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2016 to 2019.