Mexico Could Legalize Marijuana Under its New President
This new proposed law would let companies grow marijuana for medical, recreational and commercial purposes.
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador officially becomes Mexico’s President December 1st. Obrador has already brought forth legislation allowing Mexicans to sell and grow marijuana.
This new proposed law would let companies grow marijuana for medical, recreational and commercial purposes. Ordinary citizens could apply for permits from the government and would be allowed to grow a maximum of 20 cannabis plants annually for their own use. Public smoking of marijuana would also be allowed under the new law.
Olga Sanchez Cordero, Senator of The National Regeneration Movement informed lawmakers that 235,000 people have been killed since 2006 because of the war on drugs. This number does not include the 40,000 people who are missing from this crisis. In an effort to provide support for addicts, recovery and prevention programs would be provided. Cordero is predicted to obtain the position as interior minister under Obrador.
Current laws regarding marijuana in Mexico
Currently, marijuana is only legal in Mexico for medical purposes. The limits on medicinal weed is that the products comprise of 1% or less of THC.
The Supreme Court in Mexico ruled that it was unconstitutional to ban marijuana for recreational purposes. It is estimated that 62% of inmates in Mexico in 2012 were convicted of drug offenses and most of the offenses were marijuana charges. Supporters of this proposed law believe that the violence and murders would decrease with legalization. Drug Cartels would no longer have a monopoly on the sale of marijuana and law enforcement and prosecutors could go after people who commit violent crimes.
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Mexico’s Supreme Court ruling
The supreme court in Mexico ruled that law that banned cultivation and personal marijuana consumption is unconstitutional. COFERPIS (The Federal Committee for Protection from Sanitary Risks) was ordered by the court to allow people to use marijuana personally without allowing them to sell it or use in combination with other psychotropic drugs or narcotics.
Prior failed attempts
This is not the first time that legalization of marijuana has been under serious consideration before. Vicente Fox Mexico’s former president is a proponent of the legalization of marijuana. He has not hidden the fact that he’s an advocate for cannabis, this year he became a member of the board of directors for the popular magazine High Times.
Before Vicente Fox, President Enrique Pena Nito introduced a bill in 2016 that allowed citizens to have 1oz of marijuana on their possession. The bill was not successful in congress, despite approval of medicinal cannabis in certain cases.
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A multi-billion-dollar illegal market
The Mexican illegal drug industry makes between $6 billion and $8 billion annually. The Rand Drug Policy Research center says that approximately 15% to 26% comes from the sale of cannabis. The legalization of weed in states in the U.S has lowered the profits of marijuana sales from Mexico. U.S Border Patrol has seen a drop of seizures from weed. In 2013, 2.4 million pounds of weed was seized. That number has gone down to 861,231 pounds.
Moving on to Other Illegal Activities
In response to a weakening marijuana market, the drug cartels have turned to other crimes or drugs. Poppies, fentanyl and crystal meth have seen an uptick and has been the root of violence in Guererro and Michoacan, MX. Cartels have also become heavily involved in extortion, smuggling and stealing fuel.
Opposition to Legalization
Opposers of this bill state that legalization could cause increased addiction. Mexicans who smoked weed according to a federal survey was at 6% in 2011. In 2016 the number went up to 9%. This percentage is low when compare to the U.S. The National Drug Institute held a study that determined that 40% of American high school students had consumed marijuana in 2017.
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Mexico in a prime position to enter the legal cannabis industry
Marijuana has been grown in the country for centuries. The weather is ideal for cannabis sativa which thrives in tropical regions.
Reasons for Legalization
- Reduction of corrupt law enforcement
- Less extortion
- More resources targeted toward prosecuting violent offenders
- Reducing wealth of drug cartels
- Less violence from gangs
What legalization could mean for Mexico
If Mexico does decide to legalize marijuana they’re projected to become the world’s largest cannabis market. This would make it the third country to legalize marijuana behind Canada and Uruguay. Mexico has 3.5 times the population that Canada has. It will be interesting to witness what 2019 holds in store for cannabis legislation and Mexico. A decision toward legalization could bring the Mexican government an increased budget for its citizens and potentially less crime.