Mexico’s lower house has approved a bill that would legalise the recreational use of cannabis
The cannabis bill will now go on to the Senate for the final vote, which President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s party is confident will pass.
This would make Mexico one of the world’s largest regulated markets for cannabis.
Mexico has struggled with a bloody war against powerful drug cartels, with violence killing thousands yearly.
Lawmakers voted in favour of the bill by 316 votes to 129. It had already been approved in the Senate in November but another vote is needed following some alterations by the lower house.
The legislation would let users with a permit carry up to 28g and grow as many as eight plants at home for personal use. At present, it is illegal to carry more than five grams.
It would also allow for other licences for the cultivation, transformation, research and export or import of cannabis, Reuters news agency reports.
This comes after the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced that vaccinated people can return to a sense of normalcy. Those who have received the required vaccinations can visit with other vaccinated people, as well as some unvaccinated people, according to the new set of US guidelines.
Mr López Obrador has argued that the bill could help tackle the country’s powerful drug cartels.
One lawmaker from his Morena party told AFP news agency that the law would help to achieve peace.
However critics have argued that the bill could make cannabis more accessible to children. Others have questioned why Mexicans would be able to buy as much alcohol as they like, yet be liable for prosecution if they grow more than eight cannabis plants.
Should the bill be approved, Mexico would become the third country in the world, after Uruguay and Canada, to legalise cannabis for recreational use nationwide.
A number of foreign cannabis-growing companies from Canada and California are said to be interested in tapping into the market opportunity presented by the legislation.
The measure, as of Wednesday night, would allow adults to smoke marijuana and, with a permit, grow a small number of cannabis plants at home. It would also grant licenses for producers — from small farmers to commercial growers — to cultivate and sell the crop.
“Today we are in a historic moment,” said Simey Olvera, a lawmaker with the governing Morena party. “With this, the false belief that cannabis is part of Mexico’s serious public health problems is left behind.”
This comes after humans have so far degraded or destroyed roughly two-thirds of the world’s cover of original tropical rainforest, new data has revealed. The loss of this rainforest cover is also a major contributor of emissions that contribute to climate-change, with the dense tropical forest vegetation of the Earth representing the largest living reservoir of carbon on the planet.
John Walsh, director of drug policy for the Washington Office on Latin America, a U.S. advocacy group has said:
“Mexico, given its size and its worldwide reputation for being damaged by the drug war, to take this step is enormously significant,”
“North America is heading toward legalization.”