- The lower House of Congress in Mexico approved a bill to decriminalise the use of cannabis for recreational, medical and scientific uses.
- Such bill received 316 votes in its favour and 127 votes against.
- Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador, the President of Mexico, is in favour of the said bill.
- The bill is awaiting review and approval from the Senate, after which it would become a law.
- People of the age of 18 years and older, are allowed to grow, carry or consume marijuana and its derivatives.
- Five types of licenses for the cultivation, transformation, sale, research and export or import of cannabis is enlisted in the bill.
- The bill proposes to establish a system of licenses required for the entire chain of production, distribution, transformation and sales.
- The approval of such bill is believed to be able to pave the way for the creation of one of the world's largest lawful marijuana markets.
Mexico's lower house of Congress on Wednesday approved a bill that would decriminalize cannabis for recreational, medical and scientific uses. Such bill was approved in general with 316 votes in favour of the bill and 127 votes against. The bill is pending review and approval by the Senate.
Only people 18 years and older, and with a permit, would be able to grow, carry or consume marijuana and its derivatives.
The bill would allow five types of licenses for the cultivation, transformation, sale, research and export or import of marijuana.
The bill proposes to establish a system of licenses required for the entire chain of production, distribution, transformation and sales.
Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador, the President of Mexico since 2018, a member of the ruling Morena party has a majority in both chambers of Congress in Mexico. He is of the opinion that decriminalizing cannabis and other narcotics could help in combatting Mexico's powerful drug cartels, which as of now lead to massive drug wars.
The legalisation of the cannabis for recreational purposes as well would be an effective means to put a check on the drug wars occurring frequently in the country. The President of the nation is also of such opinion.
The provisions of the legislation would allow adults, that is, people over the age of 18 years, to smoke marijuana, or consume it for recreational purposes other than medical benefit, and allows them to grow a small number of cannabis plants at their homes, provided a permit to that effect has been obtained. It would also grant licenses for producers both from small farmers to commercial growers to cultivate and sell the crop.
The provisions of the bill would users with a permit to carry up to 28g of cannabis on their person as opposed to the 5g of the plant that is permissible to be carried now. They would further be permitted to grow as many as six plants at home for their personal use.
In 2015, the Supreme Court of Mexico ruled in favour of the recreational use marijuana. In 2019, the court ordered the government to create legislation, arguing that prohibiting its use was unconstitutional.
Such legislation had already been approved in the Senate in November of 2019 but subsequent alterations by the lower house made it another vote a requisite for the passing of such bill.
Simey Olvera, a lawmaker from Lopez Obrador's ruling Morena party who was wearing a mask with marijuana leaves printed on it as a gesture to support the cause of such legalisation, commented on the bill to have legalised marijuana and said, "Today we are making history." She further stated that, "With this, the false belief that cannabis forms part of Mexico's serious health problems is left behind."
The supporters of the bill strongly believe that an accountable state regulation of the drug will undermine the link between organised crime and the cannabis trade, thus curbing the loss of life due to drug wars every year.
Green Party Senator Raul Bolaños was of the opinion that such legislation served Mexico's best interests and commented that "The day has come, after two years of hard work in this Senate, we will be able to end 100 years of unnecessary prohibition." He further said, "In these two years of work, we have come to a verdict which allows for the free development of character, for the health of Mexicans and for the well-being of the entire nation."
Lopez Obrador, the President in relation to such legislation opined that the legislation could combat drug-related violence and improve security in the country.
Members of the right-wing Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and conservative National Action Party (PAN) stand strongly to oppose such legislation.
Damián Zepeda Vidales from the National Action Party commented in opposition to such legislation, that “When we are going to vote for a reform, we should always ask ourselves whether it is going to bring something positive to the country or not.” He said, “Without a doubt in this case, we feel it won't. We don't think it's positive that it will be accessible to youngsters and also children.”
POSITION OF CANNABIS LEGALITY WORLDWIDE
After approval of the bill by the Senate, Mexico would the most recent country to have joined the group of countries which had already legalised the uses of cannabis for recreational purposes.
The use of cannabis for recreational purposes is prohibited in most countries.
The policies with regard to the legality of cannabis in most countries are regulated by the following three United Nations treaties: (i) the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961, (ii) the Convention on Psychotropic Substances, 1971, and (iii) the Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, 1988.
Cannabis is classified as a Schedule I drug under the Single Convention treaty, meaning that signatories can allow medical use but that it is considered to be an addictive drug with a serious risk of abuse.
Uruguay has legalised the recreational use of cannabis for adults in the year 2013.
Jamaica has legalised the use of cannabis for religious and medicinal purposes since 2015.
The Constitutional Court in South Africa decriminalised the possession, growing and usage of weed by adults in private in 2018.
Canada allows people who are 18 years of age and above to legally possess up to 30 grams of cannabis in public since 2018 and can even grow up to four marijuana plants at home. They can also purchase marijuana from licensed producers and retailers.
Columbia has decriminalised the possession of up to 20 grams of marijuana since 2012.
Uruguay became the first country in the world to legalize the production and sale of marijuana in 2013. Countries such as Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Peru, allow the medical use of cannabis.
In 2018, Canada also legalized marijuana, including recreational use, with several large U.S. states also regulating its legal use.
The Senate encapsulated the bill's objective to be "to promote peace and security in society, contributing to the reduction of the illegal market for psychoactive cannabis and with it, organised crime, corruption and violence.”
Such legislation is supposed to bring the Nation a step closer to creating one of the world’s largest markets for the plant. With more than 120 million people, Mexico would represent the largest marijuana market in the world by population. The crop could become big business in Mexico, a potential financial lift for an economy badly battered by the coronavirus crisis.