Mexico’s incoming foreign minister has indicated that it could follow Canada’s lead and legalize cannabis for recreational use in the not too distant future.

Ebrard told a press conference that the new government will give serious consideration to legalizing cannabis after admitting that prohibition does not work.

Marcelo Ebrard will be named foreign minister when new president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador takes office on Dec. 1. To prepare for the role, he met up with Canadian minister Chrystia Freeland and he is impressed by Ottawa’s pioneering approach to marijuana.

Ebrard told a press conference that the new government will give serious consideration to legalizing cannabis after admitting that prohibition does not work. He claims there are 9,000 people currently languishing in Mexican jails for cannabis-related offences and said the current policy causes a great deal of suffering, while marijuana use remains widespread.

Rather than spending a lot of money policing it, he would rather follow the lead of Uruguay and Canada by regulating it, taxing it, and turning it into a booming industry. Ebrard said the new government sees legalizing cannabis for recreational use as an interesting option in the short-term, meaning it could be rolled out quickly.

In July 2017, outgoing president Enrique Peña Nieto signed a bill into law that permitted cannabis for medicinal use after a 98-7 vote in favour in the Senate. It must have a THC level of less than 1%, while the Ministry of Health started to develop a research program with a view to further relaxing laws. That has led to a tentative industry forming, and leading Canadian and American producers are starting to make inroads in Mexico, but the new government wants to go one step further.

Lopez Obrador’s campaign slogan was “hugs, not gunfire” as he pledged to take a novel approach to reshaping a war on drugs that has seen thousands of Mexicans killed. Cannabis is decriminalized when it comes to possessing small amounts for personal use, but most of the cultivation is still conducted illegally and it has led to bitter conflicts between rival cartels.

The government is sure to be met with opposition as it plans to soften its stance on cannabis. The National Union of Family Parents and the Teachers Alliance are among the opponents to such a move, arguing it would be detrimental to the health of youngsters in the country. But the incoming government seems determined to push through radical changes and it is expected to roll out a regulated recreational cannabis industry soon.

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