Over the weekend, Mexico took its latest step in what has become a seemingly interminable process towards the legalization of adult use cannabis. The country’s Senate published a draft of legislation that would regulate the consumption, production, harvest, packaging, distribution, and other facets of marijuana culture. 

Marijuana legalization has dragged considerably in Mexico, where medicinal cannabis was legalized back in June of 2017. In 2018, the country’s Supreme Court ruled that prohibition of adult use cannabis was unconstitutional, and gave lawmakers one year to legislate a new system of legal usage. 

But when that deadline came around in October of last year, Mexican legislators claimed they still were not ready to issue regulations. Lawmakers have also come under pressure from the governmental health agency to clarify laws surrounding medicinal cannabis. 

The justice and health committees presented the weekend’s new plan in tandem. The Senate hopes to debate and pass the legislation during its next session, which will take place from February to April. 

Notably, the new law would guarantee access to medicinal cannabis for individuals with severe qualifying health conditions. The legal limit for possession would rise from five to 28 grams for individuals. 

Home cultivation has been expanded from four plants (as stipulated in some previous legislation drafts) to six, and individuals will be able to use an open area of up to 10,000 square meters to grow their cannabis. 

Is Mexico’s Government Dragging Its Feet?

Cannabis activists claim the drag on instituting legalization amounts to nothing less than a violation of Mexicans’ constitutional rights. When it became clear that lawmakers would be missing the Supreme Court’s deadline last fall, members of the cannabis community staged a camp-out in front of the Mexico City Senate building. 

The legislation draft would also establish the Mexican Institute of Cannabis, a governmental agency in charge of regulating cannabis within the country and granting pertinent licenses. That agency will be required to present a report by 2022 for the improvement and continuation of cannabis regulation. 

The proposed law does have some allowances for social equity measures — important in a country that has been rocked by decades of violence caused by the War on Drugs. This weekend’s Senate draft states that the first in line for cannabis licenses will be individuals who come from the communities that suffered the most incidents of narco-trafficking and cannabis-related arrests. 

Licenses will be required under the new plan for cannabis cultivation, processing, distribution, exporting or importing, and scientific investigation. The law also looks to reduce sentencing for some cannabis-related criminal offenses. 

Cannabis-infused edibles and beverages containing more than one percent THC would be banned under the proposed law, as well as cannabis beauty products. 

Marijuana usage will not be without its strict regulations under the proposed legislation, which states that marijuana may not be consumed in private spaces that minors have access to, or in public areas accessible by young people or occupied by an adult who does not consent to being exposed to marijuana use. 

In response to this weekend’s proposal, Mexico’s cannabis community is planning various protests. A demonstration in front of the Senate building is planned for Thursday, while social justice-oriented drug justice group Regulación por la Paz is planning a day of action for February 4.

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