Recreational marijuana is finally legal in Mexico. The country’s Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that the use of cannabis for personal use does not violate the country’s constitution. Mexico’s Supreme Court’s decision was the culmination of a months-long battle over whether to allow customers age 18 and older to possess up to 30 grams of marijuana (about 1.5 ounces) for recreational use. If the service is legal, would more people get to know the health properties of weed, and would more people be interested in trying it?
We thought we’d be celebrating the legalization of recreational marijuana in Mexico, but we were wrong.
With last Sunday’s election looming, the Senate did not commit to cannabis reform, apparently preferring to defer any policy implications to the Supreme Court. Two months ago, we wrote that the lower house of the Mexican parliament had approved a cannabis law that had been introduced by the Mexican Senate last November. In this post, I wrote: The bill now goes back to the Mexican Senate, where it is expected to pass virtually unchanged and then be sent to the executive branch for publication. Oops. Just over a month ago, the Senate ended its session not only by not passing the bill, but also by ignoring the Supreme Court’s directive (2018) to do so. Recall that in 2018, the Mexican Supreme Court ruled that the federal government’s ban on recreational marijuana use was unconstitutional and ordered Congress to pass a reform legalizing recreational use within 90 days. Since then, the Court has repeatedly set deadlines for Congressional action, most recently for the 30th Circuit. April 2021. Photo John Coletti/Getty Images Under the Supreme Court’s mandate, Congress was only required to regulate the cultivation and consumption of cannabis for personal use, but members of Congress have long publicly stated that they would seek to create a framework for the cannabis industry. Unfortunately, politics got in the way. In Mexico, as in many other countries, cannabis is a polarizing issue. Social conservatives use this issue to scare voters (¡drogas!) about the opposition’s intentions and assure them of their own credibility. Before last Sunday’s election, the Senate declined to comment on the issue. He apparently preferred to defer any political move until the Supreme Court, which already said in 2018 that it would overturn the state’s ban on recreational marijuana use unless Congress passed reforms. The difficulty is that the composition of the Supreme Court has changed somewhat since the 2018 decision, and a general petition for unconstitutionality would need the support of eight of the 11 justices to pass it. What does the situation look like today for cannabis companies (or startups) interested in the Mexican market? Of course, the final outcome of the election will be an important factor. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s MORENA party appears to have retained its majority in the lower house of the Mexican Congress, but it has lost a significant number of seats and will have to work with its allies in the Workers’ Party (PT, in Spanish) and the Green Party (PVEM, in Spanish) to pass legislation. This is good news for cannabis companies. MORENA politicians and lawmakers spearheaded the cannabis bill and are likely to push for other measures, such as. B. a review at the next Senate meeting, to be held on 1. Beginning September 2021. An opposition victory would likely have delayed the creation of a legal framework for the cannabis industry until the political winds shifted again. photo by Flickr user Jorge Mendoza-Torres Another question is whether the Supreme Court will declare the state’s ban on recreational marijuana use unconstitutional in its entirety. If the proposal passes and at least eight judges vote in favor, the existing law will be removed from Mexican law, creating a legal vacuum in which no law applies to the non-medical use of marijuana. If the Supreme Court considers accepting the common plea of unconstitutionality, but the majority of the justices do not, consumers must continue to petition the Federal Commission for Protection against Health Risks (in Spanish Comisión Federal para la Protección contra Riesgos Sanitarios, or COFEPRIS) for permission to grow/self-consume and must continue to file amparo actions (lawsuits in federal courts seeking state protection for their actions) if there is no response or if they are rejected. One final factor to consider: As in the United States, Mexican state legislators have a different view of cannabis than their federal counterparts, and I have been informed that many state legislators are preparing bills that would pave the way for a legal industrial cannabis industry. Again, the outcome of yesterday’s election will be decisive in the development of this story, but it will certainly be good news for industry players and consumers. The above is an update on the political situation shaping the development of the recreational cannabis and industrial hemp markets in Mexico. I’ll be back on the site soon with my suggestions on how cannabis companies and investors should react to this news. Adrian Cisneros Aguilar is an attorney at Harris Bricken and leads the firm’s Mexico department, where he helps companies resolve cross-border legal issues between the United States and Mexico, including cannabis law issues; helps Latin American and European companies resolve Chinese and international law issues; and helps local companies complete international and domestic business transactions.