By Roland Sebestyén
Mexico will soon welcome legal, adult use cannabis if a bill designed to end federal prohibition passes in coming weeks. The bill is scheduled to be voted on by the Mexican Senate by December. The passing of this bill could help the government wrestle control of cannabis supply away from the black market.
In the shadow of growing legal cannabis powerhouses, such as the USA and Canada, drug cartels remain in control of the supply of the drug in Mexico.
The Build-up to Cannabis Legalisation
Cannabis is illegal in the country; however, possession of the drug was decriminalised in 2009, and low-THC medical cannabis is legal since 2017.
Furthermore, in 2018, the Supreme Court decided to declare the law prohibiting cannabis use unconstitutional. In theory, the ruling government had 90 days to legalise the drug, but the SC extended the deadline to this December.
As the deadline looms, Senate leader Ricardo Monreal claims the bill, that would allow businesses in Mexico to sell cannabis to the public, would be passed at the end of this month.
The proposal would allow adults over 18 years of age to possess, consume, and cultivate cannabis for personal use. Each individual could grow as many as 20 registered plants if the yield wouldn’t exceed 480 grams in total per annum. Possession would be capped at 28 grams; however, possessing up to 200 grams would be decriminalised.
The legal process could last for a relatively long time, though. While even if the Senate voted for legalisation, the bill should be passed by Congress (the Chamber of Deputies).
Furthermore, it’s not clear how legalisation would work out. Among several tough questions is whether the government open the country for large, international companies.
Some of the giant traders from Canada and California have already implied that they would be interested in stepping into the Mexican market.
Prioritising Mexican Producers
In Mexico, up to 200,000 families that grow cannabis seek governmental assurances that their businesses would be the first to benefit from the easing of the laws.
According to Mexican civil rights groups, the fear is real. They said the proposed bill would prioritise bigger companies, and those families that have been working in the industry for decades would be left empty-handed.
According to some, this new cannabis policy would mean less violence in connection to the drug and would ease pressure on the country’s police and justice system. In Mexico, there are significantly more people in jail for cannabis possession than for cocaine.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to hit the Mexican economy and people hard, businessman Guillermo Nieto told Reuters of the emphasis that should be placed on jobs once the bill has been passed.
He said: “It’s going to generate a market. We are expecting to create jobs and revenue for the government. We think it could really help our economy.”
Experts agreed that a state-regulated, taxed open cannabis market would contribute to the economy, so Mexico could join Canada and the US in being a cannabis powerhouse in the future.