Mexican lawmakers granted 6-month extension for passing marijuana legalization bill

Mexico’s highest court pushed back the deadline for the country’s Congress to pass a bill legalizing marijuana after lawmakers requested an extension to continue working on the complex legislation. 

The new deadline is April 30, meaning lawmakers were granted another six months to produce legislation amid “unprecedented” pressure from various lobby groups. 

Senate Majority Leader Ricardo Monreal revealed last month that there had been significant attempts to influence the legalization bill, especially from multinational corporate interests. 

“The truth is there are many interests,” Monreal stated, adding that time was also an issue for drafting the bill before the Supreme Court’s deadline expires.

A lot of ground needed to be covered, he claimed, while the Supreme Court agreed the matter is extremely complex. 

The bill that was set to be deliberated in Congress last week would allow all people aged 18 or over to possess cannabis for personal use.

Lawmakers capped the number of plants individuals can grow at home at four, while a new body – the Cannabis Institute – would be tasked with issuing growing licenses and regulating the new industry.

“The Institute will not be subordinated to any authority and will adopt its decisions with full independence, except those regarding health in the terms provided by the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States, the General Health Law and other applicable regulations,” lawmakers proposed. 

Marijuana prohibition unconstitutional, Supreme Court says

A decade ago, Mexico decriminalized the possession of small amounts of weed, while in 2017 a very limited medical marijuana program kicked off. 

During his presidential campaign, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (commonly known as AMLO) vowed to try a different solution to the country’s infamous drug problem. 

Arguing that prohibition did nothing for stopping the wide-spread drug violence in the country, AMLO previously criticized militant crackdowns on Mexico’s illegal narcotics trade.

“You cannot fight violence with violence,” he stated last year. 

But the nation’s highest court had the final say in October of last year – prohibiting the use of recreational marijuana is unconstitutional, it said, giving Congress until November 1, 2019, to implement the changes. 

The court’s decision put Mexico on track to become the third country in the world to fully legalize weed (after Uruguay and Canada), with some estimates suggesting the legal market could be worth $2 billion.

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