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Mexico ready to legalize cannabis but concerns remain

Mexico ready to legalize cannabis but concerns remain

This article was originally published on Green Flower and appears here with permission.

In 2018, the Mexican Supreme Court overturned the country’s ban on recreational cannabis. The justices determined that individual liberties outweighed any consequences that came from using cannabis. The court then mandated Mexico’s Congress to pass legislation based on their ruling.

After several delays and extensions, the current deadline for this change is December 15, 2020. Once legislation is signed, Mexico will join Canada and Uruguay as the only countries in the world to have legalized recreational cannabis at the federal level.

“We’re about a month and a half away from Congress meeting the deadline that was set by the Supreme Court,” said Pepe Rivera, a well-known cannabis and human rights activist in Mexico, in an interview with Green Flower.

“This is a hot potato. They don’t want to ask for another [extension] because that would be embarrassing,” said Rivera. “If they don’t pass this bill by the 15th of December, [there will be] a general declaration of unconstitutionality.”

With the government dragging its feet, Rivera does not have high hopes for legal access to cannabis in 2020.

“Do I think cannabis is going to be legalized in the [coming] weeks? No, definitely not,” he said. “Even if the senators did their job right, internationally, the amount of time it takes between regulation and implementation is two years. So we won’t see anything legalized anytime soon. Even if they pass the bill, they still have to create an institute that is going to be giving out the licenses and permits.”

Cannabis garden outside the Mexican Senate
A garden of marijuana plants at the cannabis encampment outside the Mexican Senate building in Mexico City. (ProtoplasmaKid)

Despite the delays, Rivera is most concerned about how the Mexican government is planning on regulating the cannabis industry. He and other activists have been protesting outside the Senate for the last nine months by setting up a cannabis garden to keep the issue in lawmakers’ minds, but there is a deeper meaning, according to Rivera.

“A lot of people don’t understand why we’re actually protesting outside of the senate. It’s not because we want them to regulate, it’s because we want them to regulate correctly,” he said. Rivera added that they have four demands, cultivation without limits, possession without limits, having legal places to consume cannabis, and dignified treatment of cannabis consumers. “We want to show people that we’re not a threat to anybody.”

Rivera is also wary of what he calls “foreign lobbyists carrying their briefcases, with their presentations and logos.” He wants to see a much more domestic, grassroots approach to the cannabis industry in Mexico.

“There’s no guarantee how many licenses are going to be put out, which will violate a lot of rights, and the fact that you’re going to have to have money to buy licenses is also a violation of rights,” he said. 

Rivera added he and his fellow activists are much more worried about the farmers and their ability to make a living in this industry once it’s legalized.

“Being able to plant cannabis is a human right,” he declared.

Mexican lawmakers have less than two months to legalize recreational cannabis in some form.

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