Despite the president’s recent assertions that the government would not be legalizing recreational marijuana, legislation that would do just that passed out of Mexican Senate committees yesterday. Their vote came down to 26 senators in favor and eight opposed, with six abstaining.
Should the legislation receive final approval, Mexico would become the largest cannabis market in the world by population with roughly 130 million residents — nearly 3.5 times the size of second runner up Canada.
The bill would increase the amount of cannabis Mexicans are allowed for personal possession from the five that have been currently decriminalized to 28 grams, let people grow up to four plants in their home, and establish the Mexican Institute of Cannabis Regulation and Control to oversee the new industries and permitting procedures. Licensed medical cannabis patients will be allowed to plant up to 20 plants under the plan.
During two hours of debate, senators voiced support for and concern over the regulation draft. Antares Vázquez of the president’s Morena Party said marijuana legalization “is not promoting its use, but an attempt to regulate the black market.” Cannabis and other drugs have long been sold by powerful illegal cartels in the country.
When it came time to vote, senators broke along party lines, with the Morena Party in favor, the conservative-leaning PAN opposed, and with representatives from the PRI abstaining from the vote entirely, voicing their support for legalization but concurrent concern with some of the regulations in the current proposal.
Having cleared the justice, health, and legislative studies committees, the bill will now go to a vote in the Senate and the lower chamber of the Mexican legislature.
The Mexican Government And Recent Cannabis Issues
Recent events had cannabis advocates concerned about the future of adult use cannabis in the country. Despite the Supreme Court declaring consumption and cultivation for personal use to be constitutional rights — and even promises made by his campaign staff in the run up to his election — President Andres Manuel López has shown himself to be highly resistant to supporting wider access to cannabis in Mexico.
Last week, he went so far as to pad his critique of cannabis legalization with the dubious assertion that 60 percent of murders in Mexico — a country currently experiencing record levels of violence — were due to victims being under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
But on Wednesday, members of AMLO’s own party raised the fact that the Supreme Court represents its own legal entity that is not subject to the personal preferences of the president.
Many cannabis activists have voiced their concerns over the proposed legislation, however, saying that the restrictions placed on foreign investment in the cannabis industry do not go far enough, and that the law does not appropriately center consumer rights as guaranteed by the 2018 Supreme Court decision.
Lawmakers are pushing to pass cannabis regulation before the Supreme Court’s extended deadline of April 30th.