MEXICALI (Border Report) — The legalization of marijuana south of the border continues to be a highly-debated issue that has divided lawmakers and policymakers in Mexico.

This week, citing the health benefits of cannabis, Baja California Gov. Marina del Pilar Avila took the bold step of telling reporters “she is totally behind the legalization of marijuana as a way to treat chronic illnesses.”

Almost immediately, Norma Bustamante, the mayor of Mexicali, the state’s capital, came out against Avila’s statement.

“As a public servant, I’m always respectful of the law and as a woman, mother and grandmother of teenagers, I am against the use of drugs including marijuana and even cigarettes,” Bustamante said.

Right now, the Mexican Senate is debating legalizing the widespread use of pot in Mexico.

Baja California’s Health Secretary Adrián Medina Amarillas said marijuana provides many medical advantages.

“When the country allows the use of medical marijuana, we’ll be among the first to use it to treat chronic illnesses that don’t respond to conventional treatments among them cancer and Parkinson’s,” said Medina.

There is a law in the books in Mexico that allows people to carry up to 5 grams of marijuana for personal use, but it has to be done in private away from public spaces, and not for distribution.