Mexico's Senate Green Lights Cannabis Legalization Bill

In a landslide vote of 82-18, Mexico's senate has passed a cannabis legalization bill, pushing the country one step further toward federal cannabis legalization.

After months of delays, Mexico's efforts to legalize cannabis are finally coming to fruition, albeit with some hurdles remaining along the way.

Mexico was slated to decide whether the country would legalize cannabis or not back in late October last year after it was deemed unconstitutional to ban cannabis use and possession. That decision was then postponed until April, so that the country could iron out the proposed legislation, but due to COVID-19, the country had to postpone the senate decision yet again to December this year.

Now, finally, 4/5ths of the Mexican Senate passed a bill to legalize recreational cannabis and a cannabis market, allowing adults to carry 28 grams of cannabis and grow up to four plants.

The bill must now go through the lower house in order to become law, though it looks very likely that Mexico may begin building regulations around a legal cannabis market before 2020 is over.

The legalization of cannabis, if done correctly, would deal a huge blow to the illicit market, and reduce the number of fatalities associated with illegal drug dealing. Some analysts have attributed 55% of Mexico's homicides to the War on Drugs, which is why Mexico's President, Andrés Manuel López Obrador no longer favours a prohibition-styled policy when it comes to cannabis.

"In the matter of narcotic drugs, the prohibitionist strategy is already unsustainable, not only because of the violence generated by its poor results in terms of public health," Obrador stated.

"The only real possibility of reducing the levels of drug consumption is to lift the ban on those that are currently illegal," Obrador's statement mentioned, "and redirect the resources currently destined to combat their transfer and apply them in programs— massive, but personalized—of reinsertion and detoxification."

Cannabis has been illegal in Mexico since the 1920s, a status quo that would remain in place for nearly 90 years until Mexico decriminalized possession of small amounts of cannabis in 2009.

The country then legalized medicinal marijuana in 2017, and just last year Mexico's Supreme Court ruled last year that a ban on recreational use and possession of cannabis was, in fact, unconstitutional.

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Louis O'Neill
Louis O'Neill

Louis is a writer based in Sydney with a focus on social and political issues. Having interviewed local politicians and entrepreneurs, Louis now focuses on cannabis culture, legislation & reform.