MEXICO CITY – The Mexican Senate approved the legalization of recreational cannabis on Thursday, a historic step to alleviate the human rights crisis and consolidate the country as an industrial cannabis power, although activists warn that it is insufficient and must overcome legislative pitfalls.
With 82 votes in favor, 18 against and seven abstentions, the Senate endorsed the creation of the law and the Mexican Institute for the Regulation and Control of Cannabis, in addition to reforms to the General Health Law and the penal code that prohibit the recreational use of marijuana.
Although the endorsement of the Chamber of Deputies is still missing, the historical legislation would place Mexico together with Canada and Uruguay as the only countries that have regulated recreational marijuana, the leader of the Movement for Legalization, Lorena Beltran, told EFE.
“If Mexico approves, we would be the third country in the world to legalize all uses at the federal level. This would give us a great boost at the international level to position ourselves as what we are, the main cannabis industry in the world,” Beltran said.
The reforms will allow the cultivation of up to eight plants per household, will authorize foods and derivatives with non-psychoactive cannabis, grant licenses for planting, cultivation and harvesting, and guarantee private consumption in the absence of minors.
But activists warn that there is no complete decriminalization because it still includes criminal penalties for the possession of more than 200 grams of cannabis and fines for carrying between 28 and 200 grams.
“We want our rights to be respected and that [they do not promote] a law (…) that does not respect our human rights. We want the reform to be done well or not at all,” Juan Pablo Ibarra, of the Mexican Cannabis Movement, told EFE.
The activist denounced that the move violates the ruling of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN), which last year declared the absolute prohibition of recreational marijuana unconstitutional, saying it violates the right to free development of the personality.
The representative of the Mexican Cannabis Movement said that the law still encourages discrimination, stigmatization and police abuse.
“Basically, we want marijuana to stop being classified as a substance with certain medicinal benefits and a great risk for society, when the opposite is true – it has little risk for society and brings many benefits,” Ibarra said.
Torres Landa is secretary of the United Mexico Against Crime (MUCD), and in 2015, he was one of the first four Mexicans to obtain an injunction from the Supreme Court to grow and consume marijuana.
Therefore, he regretted that the government did not completely abandon its punitive perspective on drugs.
“It has not been decriminalized. The punitive component in this matter has not been eliminated and that in some way defeats a good part of the purpose, which is to eliminate the use of criminal law for a matter that should be absolutely and completely of an administrative nature,” he said.
Mexico is considered the world’s second-largest producer of cannabis with up to 27,000 tons a year, according to a report by Endeavor based on the UN and the US Drug Enforcement Agency.
By 2028, this report considered that the national cannabis market could reach a value of $2 billion, with 67% coming from the medical branch and 33% recreational.
“We urgently need this industry for Mexico. It is the best news of 2020, after this economic crisis and health crisis, the cannabis industry arrives to support us with jobs, with quality of life, with many very positive things,” Beltran said.