Mexico Senate to Debate Recreational Marijuana Legislation in Upcoming Session

A new “sensible amount” marijuana bill, backed by the ruling MORENA party, will be debated by the Mexican Senate in the upcoming Feb. 1 to April 30 session.

Mexican lawmakers have a chance to make history in 2020 by approving a bill that would allow for the legalization of recreational use marijuana. A bill co-authored by Senate Majority Leader Ricardo Monreal Ávila is up for debate during the new session that runs from Feb. 1 to April 30.

Monreal’s party, the Morena party, holds a majority in both houses of Congress. The legislation proposed by the Morena party would allow legal possession of up to 28 grams of cannabis for personal use.

Monreal noted that the measure is not final, but is a major step forward in the process. The Morena party leader is reportedly meeting with Interior Secretary Olga Sánchez Cordero and Julio Scherer, legal advisor to the president, next week to talk about marijuana reform legislation.

Mexico’s Marijuana Bill

According to a report from Mexico News Daily, the new recreational marijuana bill was developed by the upper house’s justice and health committees. It states that 28 grams of marijuana is considered a “sensible amount” for people to be able to possess for personal use.

The bill also allows for the cultivation of up to six cannabis plants. For individuals who desire a greater amount of cannabis than 28 grams, they would be able to possess up to 200 grams of cannabis with a license issued from the proposed Mexican Cannabis Institute.

The agency would open by Jan. 1, 2021 and tasked with creating rules for points of sale and the allowed tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) contents for products. It would distribute separate licenses for cultivation and the import and export of cannabis products.

Under the proposed bill, individuals without a license found in possession an amount of marijuana between 28 and 200 grams would face a fine amounting to roughly $560, while stricter penalties would be imposed for possession of more than 200 grams.

Another piece of the proposed legislation aims at social equity with provisions such as prioritizing cultivation licenses for individuals who live in communities most impacted by the horrific drug war or adversely impacted by drug trafficking.

Mexico’s Progress Toward Legalization

In 2018, Mexico’s Supreme Court set a historic binding precedent stating that the country’s ban on consuming cannabis was unconstitutional. The court set a deadline for lawmakers to finalize cannabis legalization.

The ruling led to a full pursuit by Mexican lawmakers to prepare a sufficient bill for cannabis legalization. The Senate held public educational meetings, including one that featured a former White House drug czar, but the legislature was not able to reach a compromise on a passable bill before the court’s October 2019 deadline.

At the end of October, the Senate suspended the debate allowing for a six-month extension to find the right legislation to approve. Monreal hopes to pass the legislation by the extended deadline, now set for the last day of the regular session, April 30.

According to a Bloomberg report, Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has said he may consider legalizing marijuana or regulating its use, but it is not a priority of his security strategy.

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