Mexico City.- Mexico is home to the most powerful drug cartels in the world and will become the world’s largest legal cannabis market as Congress enlists in the coming weeks to legalize marijuana throughout the supply chain, from agriculture to distribution and consumption, noted The Wall Street Journal.
The newspaper said the Senate passed a bill in late November that legalizes recreational marijuana and deputies say they will pass a bill by February, though they want to increase the amount of marijuana that consumers can possess in public beyond the Senate bill limit of 28 grams, or about an ounce.
Currently in Mexico, one can possess up to five grams of marijuana without being arrested. The use of marijuana for medicinal purposes has been legal since 2017.
“We are committed to regulating cannabis. It is a right of Mexicans,” said Ignacio Mier, majority leader in the Chamber of Deputies and a member of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s Morena party, in an interview.
Mier indicated that legislators and senators will work together in January to agree on a common law project that will be put to a vote in both houses.
The legal changes will make Mexico the third country in the world to legalize cannabis nationally for recreational use after Uruguay and Canada, and the largest with a potential consumer market of 88 million adults, the newspaper noted.
Authorities hope that Mexico’s legalization for recreational use will increase competition, lower prices and reduce the black market for drug gangs.
However, many analysts say legalization will only have a marginal impact on drug gangs. Today, cannabis accounts for only a small percentage of the profits of gangs, whose main sources of income are cocaine, synthetic drugs such as fentanyl and the theft of gasoline.
Marijuana seizures on the U.S.-Mexico border have plummeted about 83 percent since fiscal 2015, an indication that cannabis is a declining business for Mexican cartels, in part due to the growing legal market at the north of the border.
“Whoever thinks that this law will be a magic formula that will reduce crime and homicides is being overly optimistic,” said Alejandro Hope, a security analyst and former intelligence official. Hope and others point out that Mexico’s only realistic possibility of taking on the cartels is through capable police institutions, which the country has failed to build.
Under the Senate bill, consumers could possess up to 28 grams of marijuana in public and grow up to eight plants per home. Possession of more than 28 grams would be subject to fines, and 200 grams onwards would be a crime punishable by imprisonment.
“The Senate bill provides for an overregulated market that will inevitably increase costs for legal players, making it difficult for them to compete with the illegal market,” said Juan Francisco Torres Landa, an attorney for Hogan Lovells who fought for years to legalize marijuana. in Mexico. “This excessive regulation will also make the whole process vulnerable to government corruption.”
That is why the deputies want to increase the amount of cannabis that consumers can possess to 200 grams and make it easier and faster to obtain permits to produce and sell cannabis, Mier said.
They are also against the creation of a new regulator and, instead, want the Ministry of Health to grant the permits.