The Supreme Court (SCJN) has granted the Senate a six-month extension to legalize and regulate marijuana.
The court had set an October 31 deadline for lawmakers to legalize pot after ruling that the recreational use of marijuana is unconstitutional.
However, the Senate requested an extension last week after postponing debate on legalization last week for a number of reasons.
Among those given: a lack of agreement between lawmakers of the ruling Morena party, critical observations about the proposed bill by federal government departments and civil society organizations and pressure from companies that have tried to hasten the legislative process.
According to an official SCJN letter seen by the newspaper Milenio, lawmakers will now have until April 30 to legalize marijuana.
According to a preliminary bill, small and micro-plot farmers will be prioritized when licenses for the cultivation of legal marijuana are granted. The government hopes that legalization will help bring peace to parts of the country that are plagued by drug cartel-related violence.
The bill stipulates that in the five-year period after marijuana is legalized, at least 20% of all cultivation permits must go to campesinos or cooperatives in municipalities where authorities have eradicated illegal marijuana crops.
The Mexican Cannabis Institute, a government agency which is expected to be up and running by January 1, 2021, will assist the license-granting process.
Debate of the preliminary legalization bill is expected to restart as soon as Tuesday and there is a possibility it will be approved by the end of November.
Ricardo Monreal, leader of Morena in the Senate, said last week that the legislative process will proceed with caution “because we want to do things well.”
Mario Delgado, the party’s leader in the lower house, proposed the creation of a state-owned company to control marijuana sales in a regulated market. But his plan received scant support from other lawmakers, including those within his own party.
Morena Senator Julio Menchaca said in October that legal marijuana is expected to generate up to 18 billion pesos (US $938 million) in tax revenue in 2020.
However, his prediction was made when it appeared likely that the Senate would comply with the original SCJN deadline.
Source: Milenio (sp)