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Mexican President to Open Debate on Country's Marijuana Laws

FILE- Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto in Mexico City, Aug. 27, 2015.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said on Monday he would open a national debate to review the country's marijuana laws ahead of a key United Nations meeting next year, following a landmark court ruling.

Speaking a few days after Mexico's Supreme Court ruled to allow four plaintiffs to grow and smoke pot recreationally in a decision that could eventually open the door to marijuana legalization, Pena Nieto said he was not personally in favor of legalization as it could induce people into taking harder drugs.

However, he has asked the Interior Ministry to bring together various specialists, including academics, doctors and sociologists, to debate the future of marijuana regulation in Mexico, which has suffered a decade of gruesome drug violence.

"We'll need to establish a debate ... and the federal government is open to that, so that along with the legislative branch, we work together, creating specialized forums, which will allow us to have a much clearer, more open position of the horizon that's coming," he said at an event.

Pena Nieto added that it was necessary for Mexico to identify a coherent position on the matter before a major United Nations drugs policy meeting in April next year.

What happens next in Mexico will be keenly watched by proponents and critics of drugs reform elsewhere in the Americas, as governments from Uruguay to Canada have grown weary of the four-decades-long U.S.-led "war on drugs."

Well over 100,000 people have died in drug-related violence in Mexico since 2007, and some think marijuana legalization in Mexico and the United States could eventually lead cartels to stop selling the drug.