Mexico primed to become the world’s largest cannabis market as recreational legalization bill is approved

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

On Monday, March 8, two committees of Mexico’s Lower House of Congress approved a draft bill to decriminalize recreational cannabis. The bill, which puts the North American country in a prime position to develop one of the largest global cannabis markets, has since passed in the full chamber.

The evening of Wednesday, March 10 saw lawmakers approve the bill, before progressing to deliberate potential amendments. Mexico’s cannabis legalization bill was approved in the lower house of the Congress of the Union – the Chamber of Deputies – with a vote of 316-to-129.

The ruling emerges over two years since the country’s ban on recreational cannabis was deemed unconstitutional by the Mexican Supreme Court. Moreover, the Bill’s passing comes more than three years after medical cannabis was legalized in Mexico.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador must now give Mexico’s cannabis legalization bill – which is anticipated to move through the Senate with flying colors – his seal of approval.

Fortunately, things look good, considering the fact that Obrador’s administration backs Mexico’s cannabis bill. There’s no wonder why — following years of drug cartel violence, legalization could help Mexico to turn over a fresh leaf.

What does Mexico’s cannabis bill entail?

Proposed by the MORENA party, Mexico’s cannabis legalization bill will target people aged 18 and older who wish to grow, carry or consume the plant and its derivatives. Initially, the bill was expected to be approved in December, following its Senate-approved vote in November.

“We are in a historic moment,” said MORENA party lawmaker Simey Olvera. “With this, the false belief that cannabis is part of Mexico’s serious public health problems is left behind.”

Many well-known industry players have their sights set on Mexico’s legal cannabis market, including Canada’s Canopy Growth and The Green Organic Dutchman. According to details of the measure, adults who possess a permit would be able to smoke cannabis and cultivate a handful of the plants in their own home.

Licenses would be distributed by a newly developed Mexican Institute for the Regulation and Control of Cannabis; including cultivation, export, import, sale, transformation and research licenses. Moreover, licensed producers would be given the go-ahead to grow and turnover profit from selling the crop.

Cannabis legalization in Mexico could help tackle violent drug cartels

Lopez Obrador has long argued that cannabis decriminalization – not to mention the decriminalization of other narcotics – could help to eradicate Mexico’s long-standing drug cartels. To put into perspective the power of drug trafficking cartels in Mexico, bulk currency shipment seizures have amounted to more than $500 million since the year 2002.

Moreover, U.S. authorities claim that drug trafficking organizations transport as much as $19 billion to $29 billion from the United States to Mexico each year. However, this figure has been disputed by the Government of Mexico. 

During the first week of March, Mexico’s former President Vicente Fox said that he felt confident about Congress passing Mexico’s cannabis bill. Fox, who is now a director at Colombian-Canadian company Khiron Life Sciences, has long advocated for cannabis decriminalization in Mexico.

I’m convinced legalization of [cannabis] is the first step towards the legalization of all prohibited products,” said Fox, who plans on developing a cannabis greenhouse and laboratory, inside which the plant will be analyzed.

By 2028, Mexico’s medical cannabis segment alone is expected to be worth $1.8 billion