The Mexican Supreme Court mandated an October 24 deadline for the national legalization of cannabis, and Senate committees have announced a draft of legislation that could finally make cannabis legal in the country. The bill would establish a government agency to oversee marijuana activities, and requires a special permission for home grows, which are capped at four plants per person.
Mounting violence in the country has cast an extra layer of urgency to cannabis legalization. Last week, Sinaloa cartel members routed the federal government in its aborted attempt to arrest imprisoned narco leader El Chapo’s son, causing civilian bloodshed in the city of Culiacán. This weekend, a legislative leader from President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s Morena Party told reporters of a plan to combat narco dominance by regulating all drugs by the end of this year’s legislative session.
The proposed cannabis law shares much in common with that which was introduced last year by then-Senator and current Secretary of the Interior Olga Sánchez Cordero, with elements added from the multitude of legislative proposals that have been introduced by members of Morena since.
Proposed Legislation Would Benefit Residents of Mexico
Promisingly, the legislation seems to mainly prioritize Mexican players in the cannabis industry. 2016 medical marijuana laws forbade the production of cannabis within the country, forcing Mexicans to turn to the US and Canada for product. The first companies to receive licenses to import THC and CBD products into Mexico are now foreign owned, a fact which has given companies outside the country a head start on establishing large cannabis operations within Mexico.
Conversely, the Morena plan would prioritize small farmers and low-income Mexicans in the cannabis business licensing process. That’s a more equitable move in a country where in many areas, the illegal marijuana industry has long provided some of the only financially viable jobs. The party’s hope is that many of those currently involved in illicit cannabis activity will be able to transition to legal businesses in the future.
The law would also ban the use of edibles and cannabis beverages except for medical cannabis patients. That decision cuts back on potential cannabis industry profits — which have been forecasted as high as $1 billion by some market experts. Cannabis derivatives often turn a higher profit than sales of flower.
Cultivation and sales licenses, in addition to setting THC and CBD limits in products and other forms of regulation, will be set by a government agency to be known as the Cannabis Institute. Consumption will be limited to private areas, and banned in the presence of children or people who are otherwise unable to give their consent to being exposed to marijuana smoke. Age for purchase and possession of marijuana has been set at 18, and legal consumption would be limited to private areas.
Given the looming October 24 deadline, it’s unclear whether Mexican legislators will be able to pass the laws out of committee and to successful floor votes before the Supreme Court’s drop-dead date. But they’re trying. Members of the Health, Justice, Public Safety, and Legislative Studies committees stayed in permanent session until the legislation draft was ready to be presented, and Morena Party leaders reiterated their desire earlier this month to get marijuana legalized in time for their Supreme Court-imposed deadline.