Mexico hits snooze on cannabis legalization until next spring

The Supreme Court of Mexico has again extended the deadline for legislators to comply with a mandate to legalize adult-use cannabis.

Now Congress can legislate on this matter until the end of the next ordinary session period, which starts in February 2021 and ends in April.

On Wednesday, the Mexican Chamber of Deputies – the lower house – asked the Supreme Court for an extension on a Dec. 15, 2020, deadline.

The Senate approved the marijuana legalization bill in November, sending it to the lower house.

However, upcoming elections may weigh on the timing.

The 500 seats of the Chamber of Deputies will be up for election in June. That not only could distract lower house legislators, but it also means some deputies will want to avoid the risk of supporting controversial issues.

And according to a poll published by the Center for Social Studies and Public Opinion in May 2020, a clear majority of Mexicans were against recreational cannabis legalization.

The new 2021 target for legislators to comply with the mandate is the third extension since the original October 2019 deadline. That target was extended to April 2020 and then to December 2020.

Since the first extension was supposed to be “exceptional and one-time only,” the delays serve as a reminder that without first having a regulatory framework in place, market projections are largely meaningless.

Challenges associated with legislating amid the COVID-19 pandemic was cited as the main justification for the new extension.

However, legislative activity in Mexico was not completely paralyzed this year, with plenty of other laws being approved by Congress in recent months.