Latin America

Mexican Catholic Church endorses medical marijuana use

Archbishop of Mexico City calls for review of drug’s therapeutic uses

Archbishop Norberto Rivera during a meeting with journalists.
Archbishop Norberto Rivera during a meeting with journalists.Marco Ugarte / AP

The Roman Catholic archbishop of Mexico City, Cardinal Norberto Rivera, has endorsed the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

Rivera said the Church was prepared to share its views on the issue in a series of forums that the federal government is planning across the country in January, even though it has not been formally invited to participate.

“The Church has never had any problem in recommending the use of all of nature’s elements that promote health and a better life for citizens,” said Rivera.

In January, the federal government will host a series of nationwide debates on marijuana use

The cardinal’s statement during a meeting with journalists comes just four days after Mexico City’s government and academics at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) announced their proposal for Congress to reform the General Health Law to legalize the use of the plant for medical treatment only.

Meanwhile, the controversy over the use of marijuana continues brewing in Mexico. The federal government has planned its series of nationwide debates in January in order to hear views on related issues such as personal liberties, the economic impact of the drug and its health implications.

Rivera’s powerful Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Mexico had previously spoken out against the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the use of marijuana for recreational use. In an editorial published in mid-November in the weekly magazine Desde la Fe, Archbishop Rivera said the ruling contained the seed of destruction.

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“What is now called an adventure for freedom is really becoming the failure of the Court, which has paved the way for the cannabis movement, supposedly to protect personal liberties with the oppressive chains of addiction and slavery to drugs, which will invariably lead to disaster,” the archdiocese said.

But now the archbishop has called on the state to examine the therapeutic uses of the drug with the help of healthcare specialists. “We, whether we are invited or not, will show up,” he added.

The Church’s new position on marijuana use comes just two months before Pope Francis’s scheduled visit to the country.

English version by Dyane Jean François.