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Mexican Senate Committees Advance Marijuana Legalization Bill To Floor Vote

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Mexican Senate committees have signed off on a bill to legalize marijuana nationwide.

During a joint meeting of the Justice, Health, Legislative Studies and Public Safety Committees on Tuesday, members approved revised reform legislation that was circulated over the weekend.

The proposal as introduced would allow adults 18 and older to possess and cultivate marijuana for personal use. Individuals could grow up to 20 registered plants as long as the total yield doesn’t exceed 480 grams per year. Medical patients could apply to cultivate more than 20 plants, however.

Personal possession would be capped at 28 grams, but possession of up to 200 grams would be decriminalized.

The combined committees’ vote in favor was 26-7.

The legislation could next go directly to the Senate floor, or the panels could continue to discuss it and perhaps approve an amended version. After the bill clears the Senate, it will be considered in the Chamber of Deputies.

The Mexican Institute of Regulation and Control of Cannabis, a decentralized body established under the measure, would be established and responsible for regulating the market and issuing licenses for marijuana businesses.

The bill proposes a 12 percent tax on cannabis sales, with some revenue going toward a substance misuse treatment fund.

Public consumption would be permissible, except in spaces designated as 100 percent smoke-free. Hemp and CBD would be exempt from regulations that apply to THC products.

This advancement comes despite the fact that President Andrés Manuel López Obrador indicated last month that the administration’s focus is on medical cannabis reform, rather than adult-use legalization.

Regardless of that statement, lawmakers are set on reforming marijuana laws for medical, recreational and industrial purposes.

The vote represents “a great step…in the fight against violence and the fair treatment of human rights,” Sen. Julio Menchaca Salazar of the ruling MORENA party said.

Sen. Miguel Ángel Mancera of the Democratic Revolution party said that while “there are still pending issues,” he voted to move the bill forward “to take a fundamental step in the recreational, medical and industrial regulation in our country.”

Members of the PAN party opposed the bill while PRI party lawmakers abstained from the vote.

After the Supreme Court ruled in late 2018 that the prohibition of marijuana for personal use is unconstitutional, lawmakers got to work drafting a wide-ranging bill.

That legislation was approved by Senate committees last year ahead of the court’s October deadline, but before it headed to a floor vote, legislators requested a deadline extension, and the court granted it. Now they must vote end prohibition by the end of April.

Advocates have expressed frustration over the revised version, noting that it hadn’t been changed to address their concerns.

They would like to enhance social equity provisions, provide protections for cannabis consumers and ensure that market empowers domestic farmers, especially those most impacted under the drug war.

“We still want the regulation but this opinion does not meet the essential minimums,” the civil rights advocacy group Mexico Unido wrote.

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