Mexico is on the verge of legalizing recreational marijuana use, after the Chamber of Deputies approved on Wednesday (10) a bill that could turn the country into a giant cannabis market.
Two years after the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the total ban on recreational drug use, the text approved by 316 votes to 129, with 23 abstentions, also aims to regulate its scientific and industrial use. The approved draft is now joined by discussions on the amendment proposals made by MEPs.
Then, the text will vote in the Senate, which had already approved the bill in November, but will have to resume it after the various modifications made by the Chamber. Both bodies are controlled by representatives of the left-wing government, who push the norm, along with allies. The final vote is expected on April 30.
“The law will help to achieve peace,” MP Rubén Cayetano, of the ruling Morena party, said during the debate.
After the legislative process, the government must publish the law and issue a standard for its implementation within six months. Despite the changes, the project retains central aspects, such as legal possession of up to 28 grams of marijuana per person and home cultivation of up to eight plants.
Opponents of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the Conservative National Action voted against. For PRI MEP Mariana Rodríguez, legalization will increase “the rate of consumption and dependency”.
The law represents a milestone for Mexico, where drug-related violence kills thousands of people every year. The text allows self-cultivation, community culture and production. It also provides that only those over 18 will be able to access cannabis and prohibits consumption in workplaces, offices and schools.
One of the changes was the rejection by the deputies of the creation of a market regulation institute, as proposed by the Senate. The responsibility would lie with the National Commission against Chemical Dependencies (Conadic), of the Ministry of Health.
With 126 million inhabitants, Mexico could become the largest market for marijuana in the world and the third country to allow its consumption at the national level, after Uruguay and Canada.
“Theoretically, yes, this will create the largest legal market in the world, due to the production capacity of Mexico, as marijuana grows in natural conditions without the energy investments it makes, for example in Canada,” says Lisa. Sánchez, director of the NGO United Mexico Against Delinquency.
For Genlizzie Garibay, director of the NGO Cannativa, Mexico “enters the discussion late”. However, he recognizes that the law represents a step forward for society, producers and consumers.
The text could also be an obstacle for peasants in marginalized and poor areas – historical producers and collateral victims of the fight against drug trafficking – to enter the legal trade, warn NGOs, according to which the labeling rules, production and conditions for obtaining seeds are the norm for established companies, but not for traditional producers.
In addition, a dangerous space opens up: the reaction of the cartels, current owners of the company. In 2020, Mexican authorities seized 244 tonnes of marijuana. Since December 2006, when the government launched a military anti-drug offensive, Mexico has accumulated more than 300,000 homicides.