The proposal to legalize marijuana in Mexico is being scheduled in the Chamber of Deputies for next week. It is a long-awaited floor vote and a move that comes months after the Senate approves the reform.
From the lawmakers perspective, there is still no formal revised bill for deputies to take up, and it will have to move through the committee process before being potentially returned to the Senate. Martha Tagle Martinez, a Health Committee member stated on Tuesday several groups have tried reaching out after receiving a draft of legislation to regulate the cannabis market but cite potential harms to Mexicans as a reason for opposing the bill.
What’s Next for Mexico’s Recreational Marijuana Program?
Martha Tagle Martinez received these concerns and clarified that “there is still no formal or definitive document.” The Political Coordination Board, which is established by party leaders to reach consensus on the legalization of marijuana, has scheduled floor action for March 9th. She has stated that when there is a bill, it will go to the Health and Justice Committees to analyze, discuss, modify, and approve the draft opinion before being sent to the floor.
Currently, the bill does not fulfill the requirements of the Mexican Supreme Court, which deemed the prohibition on personal possession and cultivation of marijuana unconstitutional in a 2018 ruling. Lawmakers have moved forward with ending criminalization but have faced difficulty meeting deadlines for policy change, with until the end of April to legalize cannabis nationwide.
Last month, when the Health Committee held its preliminary discussion on the issues at hand, they had already specified that they wanted to hold four sessions to debate the legislation, but Carmen Medel Palma, President of the Health Committee, has yet to convene them and wants to expedite the process.
While advocates are eager for lawmakers to formally end prohibition, they are hoping the delay will give them more time to convince the legislature to address major concerns about certain provisions of the current bill. The nature of their concerns related to social equity components and the strict penalties for rule violations. Among these social equity concerns was the potential to increase the number of licenses to be granted to people harmed by the effects prohibition. According to Zara Snapp of the Instituto RIA, it was to “avoid the formation of corporate oligopolies and promote a horizontal and inclusive market that encourages dignified participation and fair conditions for communities in vulnerable situations,” rather than seeing full blown vertically integrated cannabis businesses.
For those who are not familiar with the basis of this, the Senate bill would establish a regulated cannabis market for Mexico, allowing adults 18 and older to purchase and possess up to an ounce of marijuana and to cultivate a maximum of six plants for personal use. For the first five years after implementation, at least forty percent of cannabis business licenses must be granted to those from indigenous, low income or historically marginalized communities. According to some sources, the bill does propose allowing the sale, import and export of non-psychoactive cannabis products for industrial use. A lot of major companies are positioning themselves for a time when Mexico opens up what would be the world’s biggest cultivation and retail market.
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