International cannabis advocates felt dismayed after Mexico missed the October 31, 2019 deadline to approve recreational cannabis legislation.
Mexico has allowed medicinal cannabis since 2017. However, in October of 2018, the Mexican Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional for the government to ban citizens’ use and ownership of cannabis. That Supreme Court ruling set the stage for legal recreational cannabis.
The Supreme Court gave legislators one year to pass reformed cannabis laws. But as October 2019 came and went, the Senate was unable to pass the legislation.
The holdup came from an unlikely place: external lobbying. While a legal Mexican cannabis trade would be a boon for the economy, many businesses aren’t happy with provisions in the suggested legislation.
As it currently stands, the draft legislation requires that 20% of all recreational cannabis licenses be granted to low-income individuals, small businesses, or indigenous groups. Large cannabis enterprises dislike this rule, which would limit their ability to scale in the market—they argue that it artificially stifles competition. As a result, these businesses have been pressuring legislators to revise the legislation, slowing the process.
Due to these unexpected delays, legislators didn’t make the October 2019 deadline from the Supreme Court. However, the Senate requested an extension, which the Supreme Court granted. Legislators have an extra 6 months—until April 30, 2020—to pass reform legislation.
Thankfully, the extension will enable lawmakers to start debating and voting on the legislation as early as this week. It’s still early days for the legislation, but it will tentatively include the following:
As far as investing, the Mexican market has a lot of opportunities. While the legislation still needs to go through the Senate, Chamber of Deputies, and the president, it’s only a matter of time before recreational cannabis hits the Mexican market. However, many enterprises won’t accept the legislation as-is, and we can expect to see a fight over the cannabis market through April 2020.
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