Mexican cardinal says church doesn't oppose medicinal pot, disagrees with president

Cardinal Norberto Rivera, the Catholic Church's top authority in Mexico, said he has no problem with the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

The cardinal said Sunday that the church has never had a problem recommending the use of "all elements from nature that can be used to help improve health."

He recalled that when he was a child the plant was commonly used for health reasons such as relieving pain, said Cardinal Rivera, who also serves as the archbishop of Mexico City.

Rivera was asked about his views on the medicinal use of marijuana at a news conference.

Back in November, the Supreme Court ruled that growing, possessing and smoking marijuana for recreation is legal under the right to freedom.

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The ruling did not approve the sale or commercial production of marijuana nor does it imply a general legalization. But if the court rules the same way on five similar petitions, it would then establish the precedent to change the law and allow general recreational use.

A few days after the ruling, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said he opposes any legalization of marijuana.

"For me, it would not be desirable, I am not in favor of an eventual legalization of marijuana," he said in a speech. But he did say he was willing to listen to other opinions.

An October opinion survey by the Parametria polling firm said that 77 percent of Mexicans opposed legalizing marijuana, while 20 percent supported the idea. The poll had a margin of error of four percentage points.

In the United States, the states of Washington, Colorado, Alaska and Oregon have legalized marijuana use. The South American nation of Uruguay adopted a plan to create a legal pot market in 2013.

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

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