Mexico has taken a step further towards a fully legal adult recreational cannabis market after draft legislation sailed through the Senate last week.
Parliamentarians had until 30 October, 2019, to finalise laws legalising recreational cannabis in the country following a Supreme Court decree that the ban was unconstitutional.
After failing to agree, the government was handed a final six-month extension, and the new date is set for 30 April, 2020, to reveal the final legislation.
The draft bill gained approval from the Senate committees of Justice, Health, Public Safety and Legislative Studies with a combined vote of 26-7 in favour, with eight abstentions.
The proposed law was approved “en lo general,” meaning that the individual articles within can still be debated and modified.
Under the changes to the Federal Health Law and federal criminal code, adult possession of up to 28 grams of cannabis would be legalised for personal use. Legal possession of the plant is currently limited to five grams.
Mexicans aged 18 and older would be allowed to possess and cultivate marijuana for personal use, and able grow up to 20 plants recreationally. Medicinal cannabis users would be allowed to grow more.
The law would also legalise commercial cannabis sales, putting the country on a par with Canada and Uruguay as the first nations to open adult recreational markets, in defiance of international treaty law, namely the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.
A tax of 12 percent would be imposed, with the revenue put into drug abuse and drug education programmes. A new regulator, the Mexican Institute of Regulation and Control of Cannabis, would be created to oversee licensing and regulation.
The measure will now be debated and voted on in the next plenary session of the Senate. If it gains approval, it would need to be approved by the Chamber of Deputies and then enacted by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
Cannabis regulation has been long mooted in Mexico as a method to help fight the US war on drugs and hinder the criminal enterprises of cartel gangs. Momentum began to swell in 2018 when the Supreme Court ruled in favour of two individuals who said a ban on cannabis use ran counter to the country’s constitution and their fundamental right to privacy.
Under Mexican law, the Supreme Court must make five rulings on an issue and on this occasion the threshold was passed, and a precedent set that all Mexican courts must now follow.