Subscribe to Entrepreneur for $5

Mexico Just Got One Giant Step Closer to Legalizing Marijuana

A proposed Federal Law for the Regulation of Cannabis will go to the Chamber of Deputies for possible approval on December 15.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

After several months of delays and interruptions, the Senate of Mexico approved a ruling to regulate the recreational, industrial, and medical use of marijuana.  

The vote passed 82 in favor, 18 against, and 7 absentees, after five hours of discussion in Senate committees. 

On December 15, this opinion will go to the Chamber of Deputies. If it passes there, Mexicans will be legally permitted to carry up to 28 grams of the plant or a pack with 28 cigarettes and have 6 to 8 marijuana plants at home.

In addition, the new regulations would allow companies to sell cannabis in authorized establishments and will establish the maximum levels of THC and CBD.

Related: Mexico's Cannabis Legalization Addresses Several National Woes, While Creating Opportunity

How we got here

Last Friday, the Justice, Health, and Legislative Studies commission began a discussion on the subject of legalization. The majority of the members voted to approve it in general and in specific terms. 

The commission also announced that an addendum would be presented that included considerations of the senators who did not agree with the opinion. 

The debate within the commission is as controversial as the use of cannabis itself. However, legislators do not have much time to debate. The Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation  (SCJN) has set a deadline of December 15, 2020, to make a final decision. 


What you need to know about the new opinion

The proposed Federal Law for the Regulation of Cannabis does not use the word “recreational” but rather talks of “adult consumption.”

"It is permitted for people of legal age with the possibility of freely expressing their consent, to consume psychoactive cannabis", reads article 13 of the legislation.

But the free use of marijuana is subject to two conditions:

  1. That it is not consumed in front of any person under the age of 18, or any other person who is unable to expressly express their free and informed consent who could be exposed to the harmful impact of second-hand smoke. 
  2. That it is not consumed in front of a person of legal age who has not consented to it, "in order to avoid the harmful impact of second-hand smoke. 

Citizens under the age of 18 will not have access to cannabis for adult or recreational use. Likewise, the consumption of marijuana in work areas, public or private, is prohibited. Nor can you drive any vehicle, drive or operate equipment or machinery that could cause danger under the effects of THC.

Key takeaways

Here's what you need to know about the upcoming legislation.

  • The opinion includes the creation of the Mexican Institute for the Regulation and Control of Cannabis, a decentralized body of the Ministry of Health, with a general director who will be freely appointed and removed by the head of the agency.
  • The government will consider creating a Cannabis Institute for the Pacification and Reconciliation of the People
  • The opinion did not include references to the medicinal and industrial use of hemp.
  • Cultivation for personal use will be limited to four psychoactive cannabis plants per person. These must remain in the consumer's home. 
  • Possession of marijuana for personal consumption is allowed in amounts of less than 28 grams. Those who possess between 28 and 200 grams will receive a fine of 5,200 to 261,000 Mexican pesos.
  •  Anyone who employs girls, boys, or adolescents in any activity related to sowing, cultivation, planting, harvesting, trade, production, distribution, supply, sale, and other stages of the cannabis production chain, will be subject to 5 to 10 years in prison. o
  •  It's prohibited to mix marijuana with other substances such as alcohol, nicotine, tobacco, caffeine, or energy drinks.

Beyond production and personal consumption

In addition to regulating personal use (self-consumption), the legislation also addresses shared use. People consuming cannabis legally can assemble in groups of 2 to 20 members with a permit approved by the authorities. 

"Authorized establishments are considered to be those places where cannabis and its derivatives are marketed for legal purposes and that have the corresponding license," reads the proposal.

Psychoactive cannabis consumption associations may plant a maximum of four plants per member. The plantations may not exceed 20 plants per property.  

On the other hand, article 14 allows the sale of psychoactive cannabis and its derivatives for adult use only within Mexico. Marketing will be limited to establishments authorized by the new Institute. They must meet certain requirements to obtain their license and can only sell a maximum of 28 grams of marijuana per day to a single person.

Plantings may not exceed 20 plants per property / Image:

Criticisms of the legislative proposal

Not everyone is happy with the ruling. 

Senators from the Morena party have proposed that in order to plant and consume marijuana at home citizens must register it. Authorities will be permitted to enter your home to verify that you meet all the requirements. Minors cannot live in the location you're growing, and there must be physical barriers to prevent other people from having contact with your cannabis plants.

Some organizations warn that these measures would be intrusive and would invade the privacy of citizens. In addition, they point out that the ruling will benefit the large cannabis industries more, before peasants and vulnerable groups.

One senator of Morena, Jesusa Rodríguez, denounced that this proposal continues to criminalize and stigmatize the use of the plant, as it still presents various limitations for its consumption that do not apply to other substances such as alcohol. 

paseven | Getty Images