Mexico’s lower house of Congress passed legislation Wednesday that aims to legalize marijuana for recreational, medical, and scientific uses. Potentially, the bill would make Mexico one of the largest markets for the legal marijuana industry. Next, the bill must secure approval from the Senate before heading to Mexican PresidentAndrés Manuel López Obrador, who already indicated his support for the measure.
Last Wednesday, Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies passed the bill that allows adults to smoke marijuana and grow cannabis plants at home with a permit. Also, the government can now grant licenses for people to cultivate and sell cannabis.
As soon as Obrador signs the bill into law, Mexico will join the growing list of nations in the Americas that legalized marijuana. In addition, this potentially makes Mexico the world’s largest cannabis market and places the US in between two weed-dealing neighbors.
Sail Through the Senate
Passed with 316 votes in favor and 129 against, the bill restricts the use of marijuana for citizens 18 and older and with a permit. “Today we are making history,” Simey Olvera, a deputy, and member of the Morena Party. “With this, the false belief that cannabis forms part of Mexico’s serious health problems is left behind,” she added.
The left-leaning Morena features President Obrador as its standard-bearer. Meanwhile, members of the right-wing Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and conservative National Action Party (PAN) oppose the legislation. However, it won’t matter anyway. The Morena party holds majorities in both chambers of Congress.
Reduce Drug Violence
Meanwhile, Obrador said that the legislation can lessen drug-related violence and enhance security. Party mates said that legalization can reduce cartel influence. Obrador already declared an end to Mexico’s war on drugs, but cartel violence kept soaring in recent years. Since entering office in 2018, Obrador has implemented a strategy known as “Abrazos, no balazos” (Hugs, not bullets). The program aims to tackle poverty and social inequality as a means to decrease drug-related violence.
However, critics of the bill said it makes marijuana more accessible to children. Others have questioned why Mexicans can buy as much alcohol as they like. But, when it comes to cannabis, they can get prosecuted if they grow more than eight plants. In addition, opponents say that any efforts to legalize marijuana won’t make a difference in cartel violence. In fact, legalization remains unwelcome in a country where nearly 66% of Mexicans oppose it.
Implications to Neighboring Countries
John Walsh is the director of drug policy for the Washington Office on Latin America, a U.S. advocacy group. He said that Mexico’s moves are shaking up the continent and can ripple across the US and Canada. “Mexico, given its size and its worldwide reputation for being damaged by the drug war, to take this step is enormously significant. North America is heading toward legalization,” he observed.
Meanwhile, a number of cannabis-growing companies from Canada and California are reportedly interested in tapping the Mexican market. With more than 120 million people, Mexico is potentially the largest marijuana market in the world by population. Consequently, it can generate big business, it can potentially lift the ailing country recently devastated by the coronavirus pandemic. “It’s an excellent economic, natural, ethical, and moral solution for a country in need,” remarked Juan Sánchez Mejorada, chief executive of Ceres Soluciones, a medicinal cannabis company. “Doing this right could give Mexico an economic surplus,” he added.
Watch the WION News report announcing that the Mexican Senate approves bill to legalize Marijuana:
Do you support the widening legalization of marijuana? Also, are you OK with allowing it for recreational use? Tell us what you think about the growing movement to legalize weed across the Americas. Share your thoughts in the comment section below.