Mexico Postpones Cannabis Legalization Until Next Spring

Soft Secrets
17 Dec 2020
Just a couple of weeks ago, the enthusiasm was fantastic that Mexico would move ahead with a historic vote to legalize cannabis nationwide. But, a last-minute petition citing COVID-19 as a reason postpones the vote until April 2021.  Delays. Delays. Delays. As any cannabis advocate here and cross-border will know - delays are frustrating. Mexican cannabis advocates right now have all the reasons to be disappointed with their country postponing its historic vote to legalize cannabis. The development follows as the Lower House of Congress on December 10 submitted a formal petition to the Supreme Court to request an extension of the December 15 deadline, initially the date until the court had time to vote on the legalization bill. Upon accepting the formal petition, the Supreme Court of Mexico has extended this deadline until April 30, 2021. In November, the Mexican Senate voted on a landmark cannabis bill to legalize the world’s largest cannabis market to serve almost 130 million Mexicans. During the Senate vote, which sent the bill to Mexico’s lower house of Congress, an overwhelming majority of 82 voters said 'yes' in favor of the new legislation; 18 were against it, and seven abstained. The petition initiated from the Lower House of Congress cited COVID-19 and the ongoing pandemic as a reason why it’s “difficult for the legislative process to consider with the depth and care that any process of formation and reform of the laws implies.” The Supreme Court corresponded in kind, saying COVID-19 is the reason they accepted the petition for postponement. In recent months, the Mexican Congress has approved several other laws, meaning the governmental body has been active, but on the vote on cannabis, its postponement has been tumultuous. It may mean missing a golden momentum that has culminated over the last couple of weeks. Mexico cannabis legalization The latest decision from the Supreme Court is the fourth time that the government has extended the deadline since ruling as unconstitutional in 2018 the decision to prohibit the personal use of cannabis and its cultivation.  The first extension was supposed to be “exceptional” and “one time only.” On the brighter side, another extension may give lawmakers the time to amend flaws on the bill, such as enabling legal support for those affected by the prohibition, removing remaining criminal penalties and sanctions, and enabling more opportunities for victims.  “We expect this extension to mean that there will be greater attention to human rights and sustainable development, and not the economic interests of companies,” said Zara Snapp, a legalization activist and co-founder of the Mexican research and advocacy organization Instituto RIA, reports VICE.  “We also hope that as they move forward that they will advance quickly and not wait until the last moment, as we have seen them do again and again,” Snapp said.  However, with an upcoming Legislative election scheduled for June 2021, the country’s lower house legislators may be distracted when it comes to voting on cannabis next year. Legalizing the plant is obviously a sensitive issue, and there may be those deputies who may not feel comfortable backing the bill should it costs their deputy seat. While the mood has been promising to legalize cannabis at the governmental level, public opinion in Mexico seems to go against the government tide. As a 2020 poll conducted on the matter suggests, although by a small margin, a majority of Mexicans do not support the legalization of recreational cannabis.  Mexico cannabis legalization

Is it any different in the U.S.?

Back home, for the first time in the congressional history, the House of Representatives voted in favor of a measure to decriminalize cannabis at the federal level, months after pulling the bill amid worries the sensitive vote could cause some lawmakers to lose tight races in November Election.  Mostly down party lines, the vote passed 228-164, with just six Democrats voting against and only five Republicans voting in favor of the measure.  Under the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, cannabis is due to be rescheduled at the federal level, enabling records expunged for those with prior marijuana-related convictions.  However, despite the momentous House vote, the overwhelming feeling is that the legislation poorly stands a chance in a Republican-controlled Senate.  Ahead of the bill’s passage, house debate focused on Democrats emphasizing the reform will help correct racist wrongs. Republicans on the other hand cited harm to children and public safety as the reasons why the legalization should not proceed further.  Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is the lead sponsor of the Senate companion version of the bill.  Overall, the newly elected Biden administration has sent the signs it’s willing to bring change and legalize cannabis. But for now, if this administration is to deliver on its words, any good results stand a better chance in the second half of this administration’s time being.
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