Mexican Supreme Court asked to extend deadline for cannabis bill debate until February

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

A bill to legalize cannabis in Mexico has been deferred once again. Despite the fact that cannabis legislation was approved by the Senate in November, a request to impose another extension for the cannabis bill debate was approved by leaders in the Chamber of Deputies on Wednesday, December 9.

Back in March, members of the Senate’s Justice, Health, and Legislative Studies Committees approved an earlier version of cannabis legislation. However, the coronavirus (COVID-19) erupted into full force at this time; thus distracting attention from the bill’s consideration.

Towards the end of 2018, a court ruled that the prohibition of personal cannabis consumption and cultivation was “unconstitutional” and instructed lawmakers to formally abolish criminalization by October of the following year.

Now, the nation’s Supreme Court must agree to another deadline extension. December 15 was the most recent occasion on which lawmakers’ request to push back the debate was accepted

Supreme Court urged to extend cannabis bill decision until February 

The bill to legalize cannabis in Mexico has already been approved by the Senate. However, legislative leaders say that the bill which would establish a regulated cannabis market that permits adults 18+ to buy and possess 28 grams of cannabis and grow up to six plants for personal consumption needs more time to be properly prepared.

In order to grant legislative leaders enough time to ensure Mexico’s cannabis bill has everything it needs to form the foundations of a well-rounded market, the Supreme Court has been asked to extend the deadline until February.

As per the details of Mexico’s cannabis bill, the market would be regulated by the Mexican Institute of Cannabis. Members of the Institute would also be in charge of issuing licenses to applicants who wish to participate in a legal market. 

Although public cannabis consumption will be welcomed under the bill, it would still be illegal to use the plant in social spaces with lots of people, tobacco-free zones and areas where individuals aged below 18 may be exposed.

A maximum of eight plants could be cultivated in households with more than one adult resident. The rules for Mexico’s legal cannabis industry also state that people “should not” consume cannabis in households where there are underaged individuals present. 

Possession limits will be capped at 28 grams. However, possession of less than 200 grams would be deemed an infraction punishable by a fine; no stint behind bars would be required.

More time needed to advance regulations for cannabis legalization in Mexico 

Before the recent vote on cannabis legalization in Mexico, the Senate made numerous amendments to the bill. One of those changes was an increase from the four-plant self cultivation limit for individuals. Furthermore, the Senate decided to banish a requirement that would have made it obligatory for plant-tracking to be implemented by people who cultivate cannabis for personal use.

That’s just a drop in the bucket for cannabis legalization in Mexico, however, with another rule change mandating that the government wipe clean criminal records for people who have been charged with a cannabis conviction within the previous six months. Moreover, vertically integrated cannabis business owners need not reside in a vulnerable community to apply for a license; lawmakers recently removed a prohibition.

Despite efforts to fast-track Mexico’s cannabis bill to the floor, Chamber President Dulce María Sauri said that the more time is necessary “to improve the regulatory framework on cannabis.”

“I am sure that the Court, which follows these deliberations very closely, will see that the legislative work is well advanced,” she said. “I am sure that the Supreme Court of Justice will agree to do what is necessary to provide a good regulatory framework in this matter.”

MORENA party members are supportive of cannabis legalization in Mexico. In April, Sen. Julio Ramón Menchaca Salazar said that legalizing cannabis could strengthen the economy post-pandemic. Some months later, in August, Sen. Jesusa Rodríguez of the MORENA party adorned her desk with a cannabis plant. The plant has also made an appearance in front of the Senate, where advocates have been growing hundreds of them.