We’ve cheered at Arizona, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota over ther past month. But how about Baja California, Chihuahua, Jalisco, Quintana Roo and Veracruz? Legalization is coming soon to our neighbor to the south, Mexico, and the country could soon become a major player in the cannabis industry.
First, a brief history. Medicinal cannabis was legalized in 2017 for qualified patients and medical researchers, with import and export allowed for such use. Then in 2018, the Mexico Supreme Court declared the government’s ban on recreational use to be unconstitutional, and mandated that regulations be created to allow legalization. However, the deadline to do so was repeatedly pushed back — and now sits at December 15.
So the Mexico Senate is poised to take action, and President Andres Manuel Lopez Obraor is in full support. As it currently stands, the law will allow the licensed sale of cannabis, with citizens 18 and older able to possess up to 28 grams. Individuals will also be able to grow up to eight plants in their homes.
One interesting creation of the new law will be the creation of “asociaciones de consumo” — consumption associations — that will allow groups of adult users to conduct cannabis-related activities together. There will be some restrictions created, primarily the requirement that activities be located at least 500 meters away from schools, recreational areas and the like.
The scope of licensing appears to have few restrictions; licenses are being issued for cultivation, processing, merchandising, transport and research, with no barriers to one party having multiple licenses or related parties creating joint partnerships. Foreigners will be able to set up Mexican companies to apply for licenses. And as with most other countries, preference will be given to certain social equity applicants seeking cultivation licenses.
Mexico will create a new government body, the Mexican Institute for the Regulation and Control of Cannabis, that will issue license policies and guidelines. In addition, there will be new regulations for medical cannabis, designed to update the original 2017 amendments to the General Health Law. But even though it is going to take some time after bill passage to establish the Institute and wait for it to issue guidelines, some companies are applying now for medical licenses in the thinking this may help them expand into recreational at a later date.
Passage will make Mexico the world’s largest legal cannabis market, a fact not lost on cannabis advocates in the country. In recent weeks, a cannabis “garden” has been created next to the Mexican Senate, where recreational users are celebrating and law enforcement is looking the other way.