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News > Latin America

Mexico: Bill to Decriminalize Recreational Marijuana Ready

  • A young man taking part in a march in favor of legalization wearing a mask of the then candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Mexico City, Mexico. May 5, 2018.

    A young man taking part in a march in favor of legalization wearing a mask of the then candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Mexico City, Mexico. May 5, 2018. | Photo: EFE

Published 6 November 2018

With the National Renewal Movement (Morena) controlling both houses and the supreme court's last ruling, the bill will most likely pass.

Senator Olga Sanchez Cordero, a prominent member of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s National Renewal Movement (Morena) and future interior minister, presented a bill to decriminalize the use and commercialization of cannabis under a strict legal regulation, somehow following the example of Uruguay and Canada.


Mexican Justice Paves Way for Recreational Marijuana

The new law would decriminalize the whole chain of production, from sowing to consumption, going through harvesting, packaging and publicity, for commercial, personal and scientific uses. Minors won’t be able to participate in the chain, but adults will be free to smoke it even in public places, as long as it’s not ‘smoke-free.’

The initiative establishes that Cannabis will be produced for both national and foreign consumption, as it also presents an export scheme.

Everything related to its production and consumption will be supervised by the Mexican Institute of Regulation and Control of Cannabis (IMRCC), linked to the Health Secretary, which will be in charge of issuing 15 different types of licenses, going from personal to industrial uses with all in between, and lasting for 10 years.

People interested in personal growing and consumption will be able to register up to 20 plants limited of 480 grams per year, with the possibility of increasing that number if required by a health condition, while groups between two and 150 could form ‘production cooperatives’ also for personal use.

In case an individual or a group exceeds the established amounts, the resting production will be donated to a research entity.

In order to get a license for scientific ends, the IMRCC will first have to authorize the research protocol.

All interested must be over 18 years old and have a criminal record free of organized crime, money laundering, or other charges considered of strong social impact.

Mexico's Navy incinerating seven tons of Cannabis found in boats near the Sonoran coast. July 9, 2009. Photo | EFE

Legalization of recreational marijuana has been finding its way in the courts as users and other interested people are challenging the General Health Law on constitutional grounds.

On October 31 the Supreme Court of Justice ruled that it’s “fundamental right to the free development of the personality allows adults to decide -without any interference- what types of recreational activities they wish to engage in.”

The ruling created legal precedence and it forced the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, in the hands of Morena and allied parties, to modify the legal framework for drug use in the country.

Lopez Obrador, Morena’s leader, will take office on December 1 but his party already took over the majority of the House of Representatives and a great part of the Senate on September 1. 

A Different Policy

In the bill, the future interior minister explained that the policies of the two last administrations (2006-2012, 2012-2018) addressed drug use from a criminal perspective, rather than understanding it as a health issue. The prohibition policy and the so-called ‘war on drugs’ led to serious negative consequences that marked Mexican society, including the dramatic increase of violence everywhere in the country and the criminalization of underprivileged sectors of society.

In 2012, 62 percent of inmates were sentenced for ‘crimes against health,’ and 58.7 percent of those crimes were related to consumption, production, transportation, commercialization and other activities related to Cannabis. In the same years, there were 1,509 people sentenced for possession or use. The bill also proposes amnesty for some of these cases, depending on the crime.

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