After years of fighting on the streets and in the courts, Mexico is one step away from becoming the third country, after Uruguay and Canada, to legalise cannabis for recreational use, as the Mexican House of Representatives passes a bill to that end. This is a progressive and historic decision in a country damaged by drug-trafficking groups who fuel conflict on this plant and deepen the stigma surrounding its use.
When did Cannabis Become Illegal in Mexico?
According to studies analysing legal decisions concerning drugs in Mexico between 1920 and 1940, specifically in the case of marijuana, the Mexican government has allowed the medical use of this plant until 1920, when prohibition came into force on a nationwide level. In 1940 the use of marijuana becomes not only illegal, but a criminal wrongdoing. Laws enacted throughout the 20th century were influenced by the international community, especially by the US government. Still, during the first half of the 20th century, ideas of social discipline and normalisation shaped the law, which became increasingly stricter. In the same vein, those rules prohibiting and regulating the use of substances became stricter as well.
When Will Marijuana Be Legal Nationwide?
This March, the Mexican House of Representatives voted in favour of legalising the recreational use of cannabis, as its medical use is already legal in the country since 2017. Even though the country makes progress, there are still many hurdles to cross before the bill becomes law. Last April 5, the Justice Commission of the Mexican Senate upheld amendments to cannabis regulation and decriminalisation in the country, with no alterations made to the bill adopted by the House. The next step towards the end of criminalisation is for the Health and Legislative Studies commissions to give their approval of the bill. Additionally, the Public Safety commission can express its opinion on the matter. A solution to the question is expected to be found by the end of this year and, if that were to happen, Mexico could become one of the largest cannabis producers in the whole world.
The Federal Cannabis Regulation Act, consisting of 55 sections, governs production and sale of cannabis and its derivative products, with a focus on human development, public safety, and respect for human rights.
In Mexico, the war on drugs has improved the profitability of illicit drugs, favouring a rise in violent organized crime and generalised corruption, which damages the rule of law and increases the likelihood human rights violations. On its own, legalising weed may not solve these problems, but it is a first crucial step towards implementing alternative drug policies, noted Human Rights Watch.
According with regulations set forth in the Federal Act, legally allowed uses of cannabis and its derivatives include: storing, take advantage of, trading in, consuming, harvesting, growing, distributing, packing, labelling, exporting, importing, researching, owning, possessing, preparing, producing, promoting, advertising, planting, transforming, carrying, supplying, selling and acquiring in any capacity.
The General Health Act, in addition to any other regulations that may apply, will also govern in the case of medical, palliative, or pharmaceutical uses, or in the case of cosmetics production, including research related to these uses.
Individual use: Home growing or community growing for personal, recreational use; growing for commercial, recreational purposes; growing for research purposes, and industrial hemp growing.
Who Will Be Allowed to Grow, Buy and Sell Cannabis?
Under this Act, any person over 18 is entitled to use psychoactive cannabis. Consumption must not be detrimental to others, especially regarding minors. The use of cannabis is forbidden in areas deemed as “100% smoke-free,” and the same applies to private and state schools, all educational levels. In those areas, signs and symbols must be placed, in compliance with regulations provided for by the Mexican Commission Against Addiction (known by its Spanish acronym, CONADIC).
The decision of the House also rules that the sale of psychoactive cannabis and its derivatives for recreational use must be performed only within Mexican territory, at venues authorised to that effect by the Commission in compliance with the Act. It is also established that, after obtaining a licence by CONADIC, any person over 18 will be entitled to grow and possess up to six cannabis plants at his or her place of residency exclusively for recreational use. These plants must stay within the authorised premises. If more than one overage user resides in the same place, the maximum number of plants allowed rises to eight.
Cannabis Growers Associations
Finally, with respect to growers’ associations, the law stipulates that, after obtaining the appropriate licence by CONADIC, any person over 18 is entitled to incorporate a not-for-profit cannabis association to grow and possess psychoactive cannabis plants for recreational use by its members. These associations must consist of at least two and no more than 20 overage persons.