By Emily Ledger
Following a tumultuous few years in regards to the legality of cannabis, Mexico is expected to approve the decriminalisation of the drug this week. The move will potentially create one of the biggest legal cannabis markets in the world.
The full chamber of Mexico’s Lower House is set to debate and vote on the bill this week. If approved, the bill would introduce the decriminalisation of cannabis, allowing people aged 18 and over to apply for a permit to grow, carry, and use cannabis.
While the debate of the bill is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, it is yet to be confirmed when voting will take place.
Mexico’s Lower House of Congress has passed the cannabis decriminalisation bill by 316-127 votes. The bill will now be passed to the Senate, where the final vote will take place. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has expressed confidence that the bill will be successful.
The bill was proposed by Lopez Obrador’s governing Morena Party which has a majority in both chambers of Mexico’s Congress. The draft bill was approved by the health and justice committees and passed the Senate vote in November last year.
If approved by the lawmakers in the Lower House this week, citizens with a permit will be permitted to carry up to 28g of cannabis intended for personal use. In addition, people will be allowed to grow up to six plants (with a maximum of eight plants per household).
The bill would also see the creation of the Mexican Institute for the Regulation and Control of Cannabis which would issue licenses for the cultivation, transformation, sale, research, and export or import of cannabis.
Advocates for cannabis reforms in Mexico claim that the decriminalisation of cannabis would help to create more jobs and support the economy in the future. Many – including the country’s President Lopez Obrador – believe that decriminalising cannabis and other drugs would help to challenge illegal drug cartels.
With the prospect of the decriminalisation, and potential legalisation, of cannabis in Mexico, many experts believe that there could be significant implications for surrounding countries.
In an interview with NBC News, Andrew Rudman, director of the Mexico Institute at the Wilson Center, said: “It creates some really interesting trade issues. Mexico legalising is going to strengthen the push for, if not legalisation, decriminalisation in the US.”
Cannabis Legislation in Mexico
Cannabis remains illegal in Mexico, despite Supreme Court rulings that the law prohibiting cannabis use is unconstitutional. However, the use of recreational cannabis was decriminalised in 2009.
At the beginning of 2021, Mexico’s Health Ministry laid out new regulations on medical cannabis following the legalisation of medical cannabis in 2017. The new regulations included allowing medical companies to carry out increased research into the plant and the prospect of introducing more diverse medical cannabis products.