Long Awaited Marijuana Legalization Legislation Introduced in Mexico

A Mexican senator has introduced legislation that could finally legalize marijuana for Mexico residents after years of government regulatory delay.

It’s been a long time coming, but Mexico lawmakers might finally have a comprehensive regulatory framework for cannabis legislation that would make adult-use cannabis legal.

Last week, Senator Julio Menchaca Salazar of the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) party shared that the Justice Commission, which he leads, had worked with other legislative groups, including the Health and Public Security Commissions, to create a policy establishing regulation on every aspect of cannabis use.

If approved, Salazar’s bill would allow for both the recreational and medical use of marijuana. The Ministry of Health would be responsible for the cultivation, processing, and transporting of cannabis. The proposal also permits “textile use of the plant.”

The Mexican Senate is now back from a summer recess spanning May to Aug. 31. In a newsletter issued by the Senate, Menchaca Salazar said that it was important for the Justice Commission to work on the cannabis legislation and “take advantage of the recess period.”

In the newsletter, he recalled that by law, “The Senate has 90 days, after the Supreme Court set the deadline to legislate on the matter, which expires in October.”

That deadline from the Mexican Supreme Court came after an official ruling that Mexico’s cannabis prohibition was unconstitutional. The court granted 90 days for the Mexican Congress to update laws, giving the government an official kick-in-the-rear to get the regulatory framework complete.

The legislation from the MORENA senator is deemed hopeful by advocates because the party holds a majority in both houses of the Mexican Congress. In the months leading up to the introduction of the initiative, lawmakers have been meeting to share ideas on cannabis regulation.

In August, the Mexican Senate hosted a series of roundtable discussions, in addition to accepting online feedback, on the subject of adult-use cannabis. The Mexican Senate also hosted a forum in April, titled “Towards a Policy to Regulate Cannabis,” inviting lawmakers and policy experts at the local, national, and international level to exchange ideas on cannabis reform for Mexico.

There are currently nine cannabis reform bills under consideration. Menchaca Salazar has indicated his new initiative is meant to act as a complementary bill to the others. According to reports, lawmakers anticipate making a presentation to their colleagues by the end of September, illustrating the final details of the reform bill.

Marijuana Reform in Mexico

The Mexican government has moved at a slow but gradual pace when it comes to cannabis reform. In 2009, Mexican lawmakers made moves to decriminalize the possession of up to 5 grams of cannabis. The use of medical marijuana has technically been legal since June 2017 through modifications to the country’s General Health Law.

However, Mexican lawmakers have not yet come up with cannabis regulations, leaving medical marijuana patients with a lack of access.

Lawmakers have acted with greater urgency since Nov. 2018, after a Mexican Supreme Court ruled country’s marijuana prohibition law is unconstitutional. The ruling set a new precedent for a law change in the Mexican court system.

On Jan. 31 of this year, the Mexican Supreme Court issued an official notice of its precedent to both houses of Congress, requiring them to reform the laws to reflect that the prohibition of cannabis use is unconstitutional.

Mexico is poised to become the third country in the world to legalize recreational marijuana, after Uruguay and Canada. President Andrew Manuel López Obrador is in support of legalization.

Legalization in Mexico and Canada would certainly apply pressure to the United States, where marijuana is currently illegal at the federal level.

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