Mexico’s Senate president has said US influence is to blame for her country’s failed marijuana criminalization laws.
Another senior senator said lawmakers are now working to reverse those policies, with the legislature expected to vote on a cannabis regulation bill within weeks.
Senate President Olga Sánchez Cordero, who previously served in a cabinet-level position in the administration of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, said in an interview this week that Mexico “lagged behind” on marijuana reform in the decades since the plant was decriminalized.
📌 Cannabis, economic circular and movilidad son algunos de los temas que el Senado, pic.twitter.com/RwzKq6oIre
Senado de Mexico November 10, 2021
She referred to the “forbidden culture” that arose in the 1960s, say “It came from the United States,” according to a translation.
Last month, Sanchez Cordero stressed the urgency of a reform age in separate notes, saying: “There is There is no longer room for ban policy.“
“We’re Mexico of liberties, and people are aware of that,” she said at the time. Lawmakers will adopt implementing legislation “in the coming weeks or months – but I don’t want any more time to pass”.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Ricardo Monreal Avila of the ruling MORENA party said at a news conference Tuesday that lawmakers have “one to two weeks” of finalizing the cannabis bill. Lawmakers are working to resolve “constitutional inconsistencies and cover all the details to create a progressive, high-level law.”
Members of the Senate Health and Justice Committees have been selected to draft a new cannabis bill that could pass both houses of the legislature, Politico Mx mentioned.
The plan is to pass a bill at the end of the current legislative session next month.
▶ Eliminar las inconsistencias Constucionales es uno de los objetivos del análisis de la Reforma en materia de regulación de cannabis, señaló el Presidente de la Junta de Coordinación Política, Tweet embed. pic.twitter.com/uMKFqn9Jwf
Senado de Mexico November 9, 2021
Currently, there is a political gap because the Mexican Supreme Court has ended the ban on personal possession and the cultivation of marijuana, but there is no regulated market for people to access cannabis.
Monreal said on Monday that key legislative leaders of multiple parties have “I agreed to prioritize cannabis laws,” Among other things.
After the country’s Supreme Court deemed the ban unconstitutional three years ago, lawmakers were then obligated to enact the policy change but have since been unable to reach consensus on legislation to set regulations for a marijuana program.
At the request of lawmakers, the court agreed to extend the deadline for Congress to formally end the ban on multiple occasions. but because of Repeated failed attempts to meet these deadlines, judges They eventually voted to end decriminalization themselves in June.
Monreal previously said the stage is set for lawmakers Actually passed a marijuana legalization bill During the new session after multiple attempts in recent years failed to cross the finish line.
“With the start of the LXV legislature, a new possibility has opened up to discuss and pass this long-delayed law, which would put an end to a hundred-year policy of banning and criminalizing the consumption of the cannabis flower, and, in turn, open up a multi-million dollar market nationally and internationally,” he said last month. which may be beneficial to revitalize the economy in our country.”
After the Supreme Court independently invalidated the ban earlier this year, defenders of the decision stressed that the decision underscores the need for lawmakers to issue a swift action to implement a comprehensive system of legal and regulated sales. They want to make sure that a fair market is created, that addresses the harms of criminalization on certain communities and promotes personal freedom.
Lawmakers have come close to that goal over the past three years—but they have failed to get the job done.
The Senate approved a legalization bill late last year, then passed the House Review and pass it in March, and return it to the original room. Then some Senate committees The modified procedure was taken up and approvedBut the leaders soon started sending signals Some revisions made the proposal impractical.
Monreal said further reviews may be necessary to prepare the final bill for the legislation.
“If this Act is approved in this normal period of the cycle, some adjustments should also be made to the legal framework for tax collection, to provide for a special tax on cannabis and its derivatives, as for other products that have an impact on public health: spirits, beer and gasoline and tobacco”, estimating it could generate the equivalent of US$1 billion in revenue.
After the House of Representatives previously approved the legalization bill passed by the Senate, the senators said the revised proposal was critically internally conflicting — on provisions on legal tenure limits, the definition of cannabis and other matters — and lawmakers could subject themselves to criminal liability if it came into law. Implementation as formulated.
But Monreal said in April that if the court were to issue a declaration of unconstitutionality before approving a measure to regulate cannabis, it would lead to “chaos”.
The top senator also spoke of the importance of lawmakers taking their time to craft good policy and not rushing amid pressure from tobacco and pharmaceutical industry interests.
“We must not allow ourselves to be under the pressure of interests,” he said at the time. “The Senate should act with great wisdom in this matter.”
Senator Eduardo Ramirez Aguilar of the MORENA party said in April that “At this time, It is important to legislate the terms presented to us“Then consider further revisions to the cannabis laws through subsequent bills.
This is the position many advocates of legalization have taken as well, urging lawmakers to pass an incomplete bill immediately and then work to fix it later.
Under the proposal, adults aged 18 and over are allowed to purchase and possess up to 28 grams of marijuana and grow up to six plants for personal use. Representatives made changes mainly related to the organizational structure, commercial market rules and licensing policies.
One of the most notable changes made by the House was that the amended bill would not create a new independent regulator to oversee licensing and program implementation as approved by the Senate. Instead, that authority would be given to an existing agency, the National Commission Against Addiction.
Representatives also approved additional reviews to increase penalties for unauthorized possession of large quantities of cannabis, prevent the conversion of forest lands to marijuana growing areas, and require regulators to “coordinate campaigns against the problem of cannabis use and … develop permanent measures to deter and prevent its use by minors and groups weak.”
Defenders were hoping for more. During this legislative process, they called for changes to be made to further promote social justice and to abolish severe penalties for violating the law.
While the bill would prioritize licenses for marginalized communities, advocates worry that there may not be enough stringent and specific criteria to ensure that it actually ends. They also pushed for an amendment to make it so that a certain percentage of the licenses would be allocated to these communities, but that didn’t happen.
For his part, Monreal said ahead of the House vote, “No problem if they amend the cannabis law, we have no problem.”
This is their job and their job. And upon return, we will review whether it is appropriate or not.” She saidAccording to translation. “The idea is to regulate the use of cannabis and not ignore the prohibition approach that has generated a huge social problem in the country.”
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said in December that the vote on the enactment of the legislation was Delayed by minor “errors” in the proposal.
ratification bill Purge a joint set of Senate committees Before a full majority vote in that chamber last year, with some adjustments made after members unofficially Consider and discuss the proposal during a virtual hearing.
Members of the Senate Justice, Health, and Legislative Studies Committees had Approved an earlier version of legal cannabis legalization Last year, too, the pandemic delayed consideration of the issue. Senator Julio Ramon Menchaca Salazar of the MORENA party said in April that legalizing cannabis could Filling treasury vaults as the economy recovers from the health crisis.
As lawmakers work to advance reform legislation, there has been a more subtle push to focus attention on the issue by certain members and activists. This batch mostly involved growing and gifting marijuana.
Late last year, Sanchez Cordero was a senior management official Senator gifted cannabis On the Senate floor, she said she would make it part of her personal garden.
different legislator Gave Sanchez Cordero, a marijuana joint On the House floor in 2019. This joint is now framed and hung in her office.
Cannabis appeared again in the legislature last year, when Senator Jessa Rodriguez of the MORENA party She decorated her desk with marijuana plants.
Drug policy reform advocates have also planted hundreds of marijuana plants in front of the Senate, pressing lawmakers to honor their pledge to advance legalization.
Image courtesy of Philip Stephan.