Mexico's push to legalize adult-use cannabis this fall has been delayed, which will likely cause the country to miss a deadline for legalization established by the nation's highest court.
On October 31, 2018, Mexico's Supreme Court ruled that cannabis prohibition violated citizens' constitutional rights to the “free development of personality.” Along with this ruling, the court imposed a one-year deadline for lawmakers to amend the country's current drug laws to reverse the prohibition of cannabis. On October 18 of this year, legislators proposed a draft legalization bill, which was expected to pass and become law this week.
The legislative process proved to be more cumbersome than expected, however, and the final vote for the bill has been pushed back to at least next week. “It was the intention to approve it on Tuesday,” said Senator Ricardo Monreal, according to Marijuana Business Daily. “But that’s not going to happen.”
Instead of coming up for a vote this week, the bill has been kicked back to the Senate Political Coordination Board, a committee that works to coordinate inter-party consensus on major bills.
Sen. Monreal explained that he wanted to slow the bill down “a little” because “many economic and social interests have been unleashed,” Marijuana Moment reports. Much of this outside pressure has come in the form of outside businesses lobbying to influence the process of legalization for their own benefit. Monreal said that moving the bill to the coordination board would “shield against any interest outside or outside the legislative power.”
As it stands now, the current Senate draft bill would allow adults 18 or older to use and possess pot for personal use, grow up to four cannabis plants, and buy weed from licensed retailers. Edibles and infused beverages would be prohibited under this law, however, and rules against intoxicated driving would also be established. Additionally, 20 percent of all business licenses would be reserved for low-income individuals, in order to help right the injustices of prohibition.
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The bill would require the establishment of a “Cannabis Institute” by January 2021, which would be tasked with establishing retail regulations and handling licensing for cannabis businesses. This institute would set potency limits on THC and CBD products, restrict how legal weed is advertised, and set regulations for packaging. In addition to legalizing weed, the draft bill would also legalize the use of peyote and psilocybin in tribal ceremonies.
It is unclear exactly how long the committee process will delay the passage of the bill, but it now appears certain that the country will miss the Supreme Court's deadline this week. Lawmakers have asked the court for an extension to allow them to work out the details, but the Court is reportedly drafting a “declaration of unconstitutionality,” which would simply strip cannabis prohibition laws from the country's current drug policy.
If the Supreme Court were to pass this declaration, any Mexican citizen would be allowed to grow, possess, and use any amount of weed. This court ruling would not establish any sort of regulated retail market. It is currently unknown whether the court is planning to grant the extension or to issue its declaration of unconstitutionality.