Mexico May Legalize Marijuana by Fall of 2019

By Paul Gaita 05/01/19

Polls currently show that 80% of the public in Mexico support legalization efforts.

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Mexico may join a growing list of countries with full legalized access to marijuana when lawmakers convene in May to draft a regulation bill that may take effect in late 2019.

A key committee member of the country's Senate Justice Committee, which has been tasked with reworking existing marijuana laws in the wake of the 2018 Supreme Court decision to strike down a ban on cannabis consumption, was quoted in a newsletter posted by the Senate that the committee will use an upcoming recess in May to finalize the bill prior to the Supreme Court's deadline of October 2019.

Polls currently show that 80% of the public in Mexico support legalization efforts.

Senate Justice Committee chairman Ramon Menchaca Salazar said that his group will "take advantage of the recess period," which takes place May 1 to May 30, to finalize legislation, and has already met with Mexico's attorney general to discuss the proposed bill.

"Canada already decriminalized, and marijuana is decriminalized in several states of the United States," said former senator Olga Sanchez Cordero, who now serves as Mexico's interior minister. "What are we thinking? We are going to try to move forward."

Mexico legalized medical marijuana in 2017, but broad legalization efforts were stymied until the Supreme Court decision, which was the fifth such ruling against the recreational pot ban since 2015. Five amparos, or federal injunctions, must be successfully filed before national law can be changed in Mexico, and the Supreme Court ruled on the fifth and final such effort on October 31, 2018, which declared the ban unconstitutional.

Marijuana Moment stated that the Senate Health Commission held a hearing on marijuana law reform earlier this month, where lawmakers testified about the realities of regulating such a market. Among the benefits cited were improvements to public health through improvements to production and distribution of cannabis. Regulation could also help curb the violence which, according to legalization supporters, claimed more than 230,000 lives in the country's fight against drug cartels.

Maria McFarland Sanchez-Moreno, who serves as executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, issued a press release which stated that "Mexico will demonstrate regional leadership and take an important step towards reforming the misguided policies that have caused such devastating harm in recent decades."

As the Motley Fool noted, legalization in Mexico could make the country the largest marijuana market in the world. Population numbers currently hover around 132 million – more than triple that of Canada, which in 2018, reported that one in six adults used marijuana.

The Motley Fool also noted that if a similar number of adults in Mexico bought legal cannabis, the country could not only pass sales figures in Canada but also California, the fifth largest economy in the world.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, Amazon.com and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites. 

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