Mexico is Set to Legalize Cannabis in April

Lawmakers have until the end of next month to finalize legislation. 

Mexico's flag waving in the breeze Source: iStock

Mexico is set to legalize recreational marijuana. 

Lawmakers have until the end of next month to finalize legislation. 

Last fall, the Supreme Court of Mexico ruled the country-wide prohibition on cannabis unconstitutional. 

According to the court ruling, “the effects provoked by marijuana do not justify an absolute prohibition of its consumption.” Now, Mexican lawmakers have until April 30th, 2020 to propose a bill to legalize marijuana on the recreational level.

This is after the Mexican Senate failed to come to an agreement over the specifics of legalization before a previous October 31st deadline. 

The Supreme Court of Mexico gave the Senate a six-month extension to pass a bill; the extension was referred to in the court ruling as “exceptionally and for one time only.”

Progressive President López Obrador had previously expressed support of legalization, however, recently, President Obrador commented that his administration is focused on legalizing medical cannabis, causing some confusion and leading many to question his intentions. 

At a recent press conference,  President Obrador made the claim that the majority of murders in Mexico were relating to alcohol and drug use. 

Mexico first decriminalized marijuana back in 2009. 

Medical cannabis has been legal in Mexico since June of 2017; however, the country’s medical marijuana program was strictly limited, restricting access for many patients. 

Despite decriminalization and medical legalization, recreational use of the plant has remained illegal. 

Following the Supreme Court decision, drug policy scientist, Froylán Enciso, gave an interview to UPI, saying, “The rulings pave the way for adults to use marijuana in any way they see fit. We aren’t just talking about recreational use. The court has found that marijuana can be used for rituals, for recreational use, for medical use, at work, for scientific investigations. For any adult use and that it cannot be penalized.”

Added Enciso, “The Mexican government has not put violent criminals in prison but [rather] people who smoke small quantities on street corners or outside, so these decisions will benefit many small consumers.”

Cannabis legalization could have huge implications for Mexico; with drug cartels controlling the illegal supply, regulation has the capacity to bring large-scale change to the country. 

Over 200,000 people have died since 2006 in Mexico’s failed war on drugs, with more than 31,000 deaths due to homicide in 2017 alone. 

Laura Carlsen is the Director of the Americas Program for the Center for International Policy in Mexico City. Back in 2017, Carlsen told the Rolling Stone, “When people have legal, regulated places to buy marijuana, it takes the whole business out of the hands of organized crime. Marijuana is a huge chunk of cartel income. Without that income there is an automatic reduction in their capacity to buy weapons, recruit teens, bribe politicians. 

Going on, said Carlsen, “Prohibition is the best thing that ever happened to organized crime they couldn’t survive a day without it. So as we dial back the disastrous prohibition regime, cartels are forced like any business to downsize. They lose market demand, reduce production and lose power to control territory and communities.”

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