Decriminalization ignores the more important, underlying issues, Catholic leaders say.
In spite of hopes that the legalization of marijuana will take the drug out of the hands of cartels, Mexico’s bishops think it’s a bad idea for society.
A bill passed by Mexico’s Senate November 19 “does not address the damage to health caused by increased use of cannabis, nor does it address the effects on the families of young people who use drugs, nor does it help to inhibit or reduce the exposure to drugs,” said the Bishops’ Conference of Mexico on Sunday, in a statement. “We see that these state policies are sending a signal that they ignore the weak and neglect those who should be best protected.”
The bishops believe that the legalization of an illicit drug means “turning away and ignoring the real needs of society, especially in the current context of the Covid-19 pandemic, the economic crisis and the security crisis.”
The bill, which will now be taken up by the Chamber of Deputies, would legalize the possession of up to an ounce of pot by adults as long as they do not consume it in front of children, the Associated Press reported. The legislation would allow a person to grow up to six marijuana plants and open the way for establishing a system of licensing for larger-scale production and sale, the wire service said.
In their statement, the Bishops’ Conference expressed concern that “there was a lack of pluralistic public debate and that experts on this subject in particular were not heard,” Fides, the information service of the Pontifical Mission Societies, reported.
“With regard to the so-called recreational use of marijuana and other psychoactive products made from cannabis, health care workers and people who have consumed such substances testify that their use in all amounts and compositions considerably reduces control over one’s own actions and thus puts the consumer in serious danger for himself and for others,” said the statement.
Acknowledging that the bill contains safeguards, the bishops complained that the problem is “not to lay down rules and conditions for the use of marijuana,” but that people’s well-being is no longer a concern.
“A health promotion and protection policy is being abandoned to satisfy the interests of a few,” the Catholic leaders charged. “Health and the common good are no longer a priority and give way to people’s pleasure, even if they could harm others. The irresponsible claims of a few to freedom are more important than the general good of health.”
The bishops urged Mexicans — especially young people — “to take a position of responsibility in the face of the consequences that this possible legalization entails” and to reflect on the impact of their choices on other areas of human life and society.
The prelates exhorted those responsible for education and health “to offer information campaigns on addictions and the consequences of narcotics in order to promote responsible behavior.” And they invited the faithful and society in general “to actively participate and collaborate with lawmakers, to find real solutions to the real problems underlying the complex drug problem, the effects of which extend beyond our borders.”