Mexico Cannabis Legalization Hits Unexpected Snag in Senate

Mexico’s proposal to legalize cannabis has hit a snag in the Senate, where a revised version of the bill is under consideration.

Senate Majority Leader Ricardo Monreal said Thursday that he prefers to seek an extension to the Supreme Court’s April deadline to change the current prohibitory law, making it unclear whether the bill might be submitted for another vote in the coming weeks.

At stake is the potential for a market comprising one of the world’s largest pool of eligible consumers of cannabis. Lawmakers proposed that individuals be able to have plants at home and businesses be able to request licenses to operate as soon as 2022, which piqued the interest of international and local investors eager to jump on the “green rush” in Latin America.

“What’s best for everyone is for this to be a good law, not a law that is approved too swiftly and that will later be difficult to put into effect,” Monreal said in press conference on Thursday.

Lawmakers have been dithering about the terms of the bill since the Supreme Court declared the current ban unconstitutional in 2018. The Senate in November had approved a previous version of the bill, which would legalize the use, sale, and production of cannabis. The lower house of Congress, known as the Chamber of Deputies, voted for its own version of the proposal in March.

‘Two Goals’

But the ruling Morena party, which had largely supposed the initiative, released a statement this week critiquing revisions made by lower house lawmakers, throwing the bill’s future into uncertainty.

“The law should meets two goals, reducing criminality and eliminating the prohibition that has led to thousands of people being imprisoned for having a few grams of marijuana. It should be an instrument for social justice,” Monreal said.

He and other high-ranking members of Morena published a statement raising concerns about changes in the latest version of the bill that include the regulatory body, permits for individuals growing for personal use, businesses’ ability to request multiple licenses, the ambiguity of advantages given to small-scale farmers, and research opportunities for hemp.

Monreal said he wants politicians to pick up the debate in the legislative session that will start in September.

The lead-up to the vote had created buzz both because of fierce backlash from activists who said lawmakers did not include enough human rights protections, and because Mexico would be only the third country, after Canada and Uruguay, to have a nationwide market for the plant, though it would maintain restrictions on the number of grams that any person could possess.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.