On Wednesday, Mexico’s Congress approved a bill that would allow the recreational use of marijuana, paving the way for the country to become the most significant legal marijuana market.
The legislation allows adults to smoke marijuana and grow up to six plants at home with a permit, according to a New York Times report. It will also grant licenses to growers to sell the plant.
“Today, we are in a historic moment,” said lawmaker Simey Olvera, a Morena party member. “With this, the false belief that cannabis is part of Mexico’s serious public health problems is left behind.”
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is expected to sign the bill once it passes through the Senate. The measure comes more than two years after Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that the country’s ban on recreational marijuana was unconstitutional and three years after medicinal marijuana was legalized.
Critics of the bill fear that it will not make much of an impact on the ongoing Cartel violence Mexico faces. The cartels have shifted focus from marijuana sales to more profitable substances such as fentanyl and methamphetamines.
Activists have also expressed concern that the law will favor giant corporations who can obtain an “integral license.” This form of license would grant them access to the whole marijuana supply chain from seed to sale. Effectively freezing small-scale producers out of the market.
The move would also sandwich the United States between the world’s two largest marijuana markets in Canada and Mexico. This could pressure the Biden administration to embrace legalization or loosen restrictions. President Joe Biden has publicly expressed that he does not support legalization. The president said that he is interested in decriminalizing and expanding medical research but falls short of full legalization.