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Mexico is On Track to Legalize Cannabis Ahead of Deadline


While the U.S. continues to legalize cannabis one state at a time with a patchwork of laws across the nation, other countries are taking a more direct approach. Our neighbors to the north in Canada already have legal cannabis – and soon our southern neighbors are likely to as well, as Mexico prepares legislation that would legalize cannabis. This move comes about a month before the deadline imposed by a Supreme Court decision in October 2018 that ruled prohibition was unconstitutional as it violates “the fundamental right to free development of the personality.” 

“A plant, as well as the consumers, has been criminalized, when it’s something very natural,” a musician by the name of Booba Roots said.

Legislation was introduced by Senator Julio Menchaca Salazar and it would allow for the legal possession, cultivation and consumption of cannabis for personal use by adults. It would do this by amending two sections of Mexico’s federal drug laws, and it would also include provisions specifically pertaining to medical cannabis and the use of hemp in textiles. 

“The security strategy needs to be reoriented toward crimes that really have victims,” such as killings and other violent acts, said Lisa Sánchez, director of Mexicans United Against Crime, a group that has campaigned to decriminalize drugs.

The legislation has support from a number of cosponsors including Senators Miguel Angel Navarro Quintero, Ruben Rocha Moya and Lucia Trasvina Waldenrath, as well as members of the National Regeneration Movement. While legalization is something that Mexico has been considering for some time, efforts to pass reform laws have increased in recent years – particularly since the 2018 Supreme Court ruling giving them a deadline to do so. 

The fact that this legislation brings together the end of the criminal prohibition of marijuana and the need for medical cannabis reform is something that many residents of the country have been waiting for. As it stands now, the law requires getting a pardon from the Mexican court system to be able to legally consume even medical marijuana. However, in August the Mexican Supreme Court also ordered the Health Ministry to publish guidelines for medical marijuana within 180 days. 

Since the deadline for reform for both medicinal and adult-use cannabis laws are coming up, the chances that some major changes are going to happen before the end of 2019 seems likely. Perhaps being bordered by legal cannabis to both the north and the south will be enough to push the U.S. to at least move towards nationwide decriminalization, allowing states to govern cannabis on their own terms.