In early 2021, Mexico looks set to become the largest nation in the world to have legalized cannabis at the national level. Lawmakers currently are working on putting the finishing touches on a system that will govern the growing, distribution, selling and possession of legal marijuana in Mexico.
It’s a major moment for cannabis proponents. Mexico is the 10th largest country in the world with an estimated 127.5 million people. As a comparison, Canada, which made marijuana legal in 2018 and rolled out a second save of legal products in 2019, is the 39th largest country with 37 million people.
The Wall Street Journal projects that Mexican lawmakers will approve a final version of a bill to make legal marijuana in Mexico a reality by February 2021.
“We are committed to regulating cannabis. It’s a right of Mexicans,” Ignacio Mier, a member of Congress and of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s Morena party, told the Journal.
What The New Law Would Do
Medical marijuana has been legal in Mexico since 2017. Under that law, Mexican citizens can carry up to five grams of cannabis without fear of arrest. The new law passed by the Mexican Senate would raise that amount to 28 grams, but lawmakers hope to increase it even higher.
The proposed law also allows people to grow up to six plants at home and provides a system for licensing production and sales of cannabis. The law also creates a commission within the Health Department to regulate the system that governs legal marijuana in Mexico.
President Obrador said that at this point, differences over the law are a “matter of form, not substance” and he expected that legalization will pass in spring of 2021.
New Law Could Help Stop Illegal Drug Trade
Lawmakers also hope that legalization could hurt Mexican cartels that control much of the illegal drug trade over the border. However, some experts have noted that drug seizures on the border have already fallen dramatically since 2015 – by as high as 83% in some places, according to the Border Report.
The implication is that cartels have started to move out of the cannabis business as more states in the U.S. make marijuana legal. But they also seem to have moved into other areas as the number of seizures for cocaine, Fentanyl and methamphetamine has increased.
At this point, 15 states have made cannabis legal in the U.S. As with those states, experts in Mexico said the market must be run well – and the products not overpriced – to compete with the illegal marijuana trade in the country.
John Walsh, drug policy director of the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), told Border Report another concern is that smaller farms will not get to participate in the legal marijuana in Mexico system.
He said, “The concern is that this new industry not be captured by the elite and controlled by a small group of people to enrich themselves and exclude smaller growers – those who have been subject to arrest and incarceration. I think Mexico is doing the right thing with legalization, but the devil will be in the details for the regime.”