Mexico City - The Mexican Senate on Thursday approved a comprehensive adult-use marijuana legalization bill, but the pending law still faces some hurdles before doors are fully open to business opportunities in Latin America's second-largest consumer market.
The bill was brought to a vote on the Senate floor, where it was debated and approved in general terms with 82 votes in favor, seven abstentions and 18 against.
The senators' decision comes two years after the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional to prohibit the recreational use of marijuana, but it has yet to be discussed in the Chamber of Deputies.
If it is approved there, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador must receive the decree, make observations, if applicable, and send it to be published.
In other words, the new regulation is not yet in force, there are still steps in the legislative process. In addition, the same opinion makes it clear that it is a regulation project, not legalization or decriminalization, since punishments are maintained in certain cases of possession of cannabis.
With this approval of the ruling, the General Law for the Regulation of Cannabis was issued, the Mexican Institute for the Regulation and Control of Cannabis was created, and various articles of the General Health Law and the Federal Criminal Code were modified, reformed, and added.
The proposed law establishes that "it is allowed for people of legal age to consume psychoactive cannabis," on the condition that they do not do so in front of other adults who do not give their consent, any person unable to express it or minors.
According to the bill, a consumer can obtain cannabis in 3 ways:
• Self-cultivation: An adult is authorized to have up to six plants at home - or eight if there is more than one consumer - and harvest for himself, without the need for registration, but in compliance with the authorities' measures.
• Associations: Organized groups of between 2 and 20 people, supervised by the Regulatory Institute for the Control of Cannabis in Mexico of the Ministry of Health, can cultivate and produce only for their members. "They will be able to sow up to the amount equivalent to 4 psychoactive cannabis plants per person associated with the year and harvest, take advantage of and prepare the product from these."
• Points of sale: Companies whose production chain is regulated and authorized by the authorities, can sell specific doses of marijuana.
Tania Ramírez, Director of the Mexico United Against Crime Advocacy, explains that although the supply and licenses for marijuana and sale of production are enabled, it will have to coexist with "a regime of criminal and/or administrative sanctions that uphold the prohibition."
Currently in Mexico the possession of up to 5 grams is allowed and the ruling proposes an increase to 28. If you have less than 28 grams, it is assumed that no authority could stop you for it.
However, Ramírez explains, if it is suspected that someone carries more than that quantity, they could be detained by the police and presented to the Public Ministry until the exact amount is clarified, because the crime of simple possession was not repealed.
If the possession is greater than 28 and less than 200 grams, the new legislation provides for economic sanctions ranging from 5,000 to 10,000 pesos, she says. If the possession of 200 grams is exceeded, the person can be incarcerated.
What is Forbidden
Some of the prohibitions contemplated in the opinion are:
• The use of cannabis by minors, unless it is for medical purposes.
• Marketing marijuana without a license.
• Consumption in work areas, public or private.
• Driving a vehicle, or operating heavy equipment under the effects of THC.
• Licensed organizations that oppose inspections are subject to penalties.
Sources: animalpolitico.com • theyucatantimes.com • mjbizdaily.com