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Mexico’s Marijuana Legalization Bill Ready for Passage

Marijuana legalization in Mexico

An agreement on Mexico’s new 42-page marijuana legalization bill was reached by committees as the Supreme Court-imposed deadline approaches.

Mexico is on track to formally legalize recreational use marijuana before the end of October.

The Justice, Health, Public Security, and Legislative Studies Committees of the Mexican Senate last week unveiled a draft of a comprehensive adult-use cannabis legalization bill. The committees are expected to formally vote on the bill in the coming days.

The new 42-page bill would legalize the possession of personal use cannabis for those 18 and older, allow the cultivation of up to four plants, and establish an independent “Cannabis Institute” to oversee the industry. Provisions in the bill would prioritize indigenous peoples, small farmers, and lower-income individuals in the licensing process.

In addition, the bill calls for establishing restrictions on marijuana product packaging to make it less visually appealing. Marijuana edibles and cannabis-infused beverages will only be available to medical marijuana patients. No pesticides will be allowed on plants and consumption must only occur in private spaces.

Legalization is being pushed by some as a method to deal with the country’s powerful drug cartels. According to the text, the bill is designed to “improve the living conditions of people living in the United Mexican States, combat the consequences of the problematic use of cannabis and reduce the crime incidence linked to drug trafficking [while] promoting peace, the security and well-being of individuals and communities.”

“We are legislating to regulate the illicit market of the #marihuana and decrease the crime incidence linked to the #narcotráfico, promoting peace and security for all Mexicans,” said Sen. Julio Menchaca Salazar, head of the Justice Committee, in a tweet.

Different cannabis legalization policies have been introduced and debated including one that would foster a state-owned industry, comparable to Mexico’s oil sales. Colorado was cited as a great example of a model when the legislation was drafted.

Passage of the new legalization bill is likely due to the support it has received from the MODENA Party, which controls both chambers of the Mexican Congress as well as the Presidency.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has been a fierce critic of the War on Drugs in Mexico. He was elected to office on a broadly leftwing platform that included legalization.

The bill first needs to be approved by the Mexican Senate before it can move to the lower Chamber of Deputies. It must be passed by the end of this month to comply with the Mexican Supreme Court, which ruled that the country’s ban on cannabis use was unconstitutional.

Market Issues

The legalization of marijuana in Mexico could eventually create global market issues, particularly for the U.S.

As seen today in other industries, outsourcing by U.S. companies lured by a congenial climate and cheap labor costs could eventually become an issue in the nation’s cannabis industry. Indeed, some of the larger companies operating in the United States are already planning international operations in Latin America.

However, that is a hypothetical future possibility. States with legalized marijuana cannot even trade among themselves, leaving states like Oregon with far too great of a surplus.

Mexico’s proposed recreational marijuana bill is expected to bring in $1.2 billion in tax revenue and result in $200 million in savings from police enforcement.

Medical marijuana was only legalized in Mexico in 2017.

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