The cannabis legalization bill in Mexico

Mexico is the latest North American country to catch the wave of cannabis legal reform. Following recent legalization in Canada and in some US States, the last two weeks have seen historic moments and significant first steps toward legalization.

Recently, Mexico’s Supreme Court deemed an absolute ban on recreational cannabis use as unconstitutional. The court ruled in favour of two recent legal challenges to prohibition and, in conjunction with similar past rulings, the decision establishes a precedent for other Mexican courts.

Consequently, President-Elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s party has submitted a bill to legalize the possession, public use, growing and sale of cannabis. The bill, introduced by the would-be Interior Minister Olga Sánchez Cordero, would allow Mexicans to have up to 20 cannabis plants for personal cultivation, though with a production limit of 480 grams per year. Highlighting the death toll from the over-a-decade long war on drugs in Mexico, Sánchez states, “the policy of prohibition arises from the false assumption that the problem of drugs should be tackled from a penal focus...the objective can’t be to eradicate the consumption of a substance that’s as prevalent as cannabis.”

Cannabis legalization will be a part of the administration’s new strategy to address crime, poverty, and drug-trafficking, so there is likely significant desire to establish quickly a framework for legalization and regulation. While legalization may still be a slow and arduous process, it increasingly appears to be a matter of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’.

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