Legalized marijuana in Mexico will turn it into the global market
The Mexican drug war aka Guerra contra el narcotráfico en México has been lasting since 2006 and took the lives of nearly 150 thousand people. Nevertheless, the recent draft law on the legalization of recreational cannabis is already under consideration by Mexican legislators. Is it just a political fad, propaganda, or deliberate strategy to reduce crime and aggressiveness in the country? Let us weigh up all possible pros and cons and put a fine point on such a hot-button issue.
The use of marijuana for medicinal purposes has been legal in the country since 2017. In the early spring of 2021, the draft law on legalized consumption of recreational cannabis was approved at the regular session of lawmakers in Mexico City. Such a controversial bill has sparked much discussion and provoked a great deal of debate not only within the country but beyond its borders as well. As a result, the United States has found itself at a crossroads between the two biggest drug dealers and has already announced its intention to lift the federal ban on the same medical drug this year.
The Chamber of Mexico, which is a lower house of the legislative branch in Mexico, voted for and against the current bill. In a vote, 316 deputies supported the draft act while 129 legislators opposed it. The relevant legislation has already been approved by Congress and right after approval by the Senate, which is an upper house, must be signed by the President. Right after its signing by the President, Mexico will become the third state in the world to fully legalize marijuana in the country. Uruguay stepped the first on this way and adopted the relevant amendments to the legislation back in 2014. Canada was the second to have legalized recreational cannabis almost three years ago.
If this draft act goes through all the stages and becomes a law, adult residents of Mexico will be allowed to store up to 28 grams of recreational cannabis, as well as grow up to 8 plants for personal use at their residences. The current regulations allow Mexican citizens to store no more than 5 grams of marijuana without being seized. It will also allow small farmers and commercial growers to cultivate, distribute, export, and import such an exotic crop. Even though the lifting of the ban on recreational cannabis is meant to fight against drug cartels and violence, marijuana legalization might soon lead to the legalized transit of cannabis and quite possibly cocaine or synthetic drugs. Just imagine that currently there are about 200 organized drug trafficking groups operating in Mexico.
At the same time, the bill still preserves a number of prohibitions. For example, the sale of marijuana to the underage or its consumption in the wrong places will be fined, as well as cannabis growing or harvesting without the appropriate permission of the authorities will be punished by imprisonment. Yet, the law implementation has led to mass dissatisfaction among civilians who were polled on this issue. Only 38% of Mexican citizens supported this initiative while the rest 58% completely opposed it. Critics have also reiterated their skepticism about its positive effect on the skyrocketing violence rates. Security experts confirmed that the law’s impact on the Mexican drug trafficking business would be insignificant since 19 American states had already legalized it for medical purposes while the 16 had legalized it for recreational purposes, including New York legalization. That is why fentanyl and methamphetamine are more of an interest to cartels rather than marijuana.
Proponents of legalization, in turn, admit that there are a few relative advantages for Mexican entrepreneurs. With a population of over 120 million people, Mexico will turn into the largest marijuana market worldwide so the cultivation of cannabis can become a profitable business and a potential financial booster for the economy. However, only monopolists will be able to obtain an “integral license” and benefit from a dubious, potentially criminal business as private traders will be locked out of the lucrative market.
Mexican authorities believe that the legal use of marijuana for recreational purposes will help to increase competition, lower prices, and reduce the black market trade, all of which combined will disrupt drug trafficking. Local advocates claim that the bill can become an excellent economic, natural, ethical, and moral solution for a country in need that has been constantly suffering from corruption and extortion. Young activists stand for and support the idea that weed should be available for everyone, so they can smoke a bit of pot before or after their studies to eliminate stress.
In my humble opinion, there is a very fine line between light and heavy drugs as they will be mixed up sooner or later and so simply wreak havoc in society. Similar tendencies can be observed in several US states as well as in some Latin American countries. Mexico has always been easily influenced by its neighbors and their trends. That might be one of the main reasons why the Mexican government is determined to implement the law and turn a blind eye on public opinion. I am utterly convinced that nobody should regard this bill as the panacea for all crimes. The only real solution for Mexico to bring down the level of crime is to form effective law enforcement, but so far no official statement has been made on the matter.
Are you for or against fully legalized cannabis in your country?