With a court-ordered deadline to legalize recreational cannabis in Mexico approaching next month, parliamentarians have no fewer than 10 proposed laws to scrutinize.
It is anyone’s guess which one will come out on top.
But the clock is ticking, with lawmakers facing a little more than a month to pass legalization legislation.
Mexico would become the third country in the world to legalize adult-use cannabis, after Uruguay and Canada.
The approaching deadline comes after Mexico’s Supreme Court earlier this year effectively declared that the country’s ban on recreational marijuana was illegal.
On Feb. 13, the court notified Congress it had 90 “Congress working days” to adapt its legislation accordingly.
That made the deadline to legalize cannabis sometime in October.
During a recent series of events organized by the Mexican parliament to solicit public feedback on legalization, Mexican Senator Miguel Ángel Navarro Quintero, president of the Health Commission, confirmed that Congress has until Oct. 24 at the latest to legalize recreational marijuana.
The legislation will be focused on health, prevention and human rights.
“We will not stop until we have an adequate legal framework regulating the use of cannabis,” reads the headline of a communication by the Mexican Senate dated Sept. 11.
A bevy of legalization bills
Currently, at least 10 different legalization bills are before the Mexican Congress. But there’s no certainty about how the new law will look.
One of the bills was introduced on Sept. 3, raising concerns among pro-legalization industry stakeholders that the legislation doesn’t go far enough.
José Trinidad Murillo, director of public affairs of Mexican-based Canncura Pharma, a company specializing in cannabis research and technology, told Marijuana Business Daily that “the bill was presented by the presidents of the legislative committees in charge of drafting the final version the cannabis law reform, raising serious concerns about their intentions.”
According to Murillo, “if the Senate approves this bill, it would buy time, and get rid of the pressure from of the Supreme Court; but it would not change that much from the current situation, because it would only instruct the health ministry to give permits for self-consumption.”
“Everything else would remain as it is today; that is, people, patients, and businesses waiting for a proper set of rules regarding cannabis,” Murillo said.
Murillo sees the bill introduced on Sept. 3 as “a form of insurance, in case the discussion became too politicized or too polarized” within Mexican society, civil organizations and political forces. “This way, the parliament would comply with the Supreme Court and wait for a better political moment for a more complete regulation.”
The bill was criticized by civil society organizations such as Mexico United Against Crime (Mexico Unido Contra la Delincuencia).
The NGO declared that the latest bill only “simulates” legalizing marijuana and encouraged members of parliament to approve a bill fully regulating the market and permitting the cultivation and sale of adult-use cannabis.
Luis Armendáriz, a partner the law firm CAAM Legal, told MJBizDaily that there’s no reason for alarm.
Other bills that would legalize marijuana are also being considered – particularly one introduced by Senators Sanchez Cordero and Monreal last year, which was taken last week by Sen. Miguel Mancera to build upon and re-introduce it as a more solid, thorough piece of legislation.
“There are signs that this is the bill that’s being given priority,” said Armendáriz.
Alfredo Pascual can be reached at email@example.com