Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Federal lawmakers expected to vote next week to legalize recreational use of pot

A bill that would legalize the recreational use of marijuana, possession of up to 28 grams for personal use and the cultivation of up to six plants in one’s home could be approved by the lower house of Congress as soon as next Tuesday.

The justice and health committees of the Chamber of Deputies will debate and vote on the proposed Federal Law for the Regulation of Cannabis on Monday.

If a majority of members of those committees support the bill, as is expected to occur, it will likely be presented at a plenary session of the lower house on Tuesday. The Supreme Court had set a deadline of December 15, 2020, for deputies to debate the bill but granted an extension due to the law’s complexity.

Approval of the bill is considered inevitable because of a 2019 decision by the Supreme Court, which ruled that laws prohibiting the use of marijuana are unconstitutional, and broad support for legalization from the ruling Morena party, which leads a coalition with a majority in the lower house.

The Senate passed the legalization bill last November but the Chamber of Deputies has made multiple changes that will likely be put to a vote next Tuesday.

Vendors sell marijuana-related products at a market outside the Senate.
Vendors sell joints, cookies, brownies and other marijuana-related products at a market outside the Senate.

The newspaper Milenio, which obtained access to the draft law, reported that the bill rules out the possibility of creating a Mexican cannabis institute as a body to regulate a legal marijuana market. It proposes instead that the National Commission Against Addictions (Conadic) regulate the sector.

Conadic would have the authority to issue licenses for the production, distribution and sale of marijuana for recreational purposes.

The bill also proposes jail time of five to 15 years for anyone who produces, transports, sells or supplies more than 5.6 kilograms of marijuana without government authorization.

It states that any person over the age of 18 has the right to use marijuana for recreational purposes as long as his or her use doesn’t affect others, especially children. It proposes allowing the establishment of cannabis clubs or associations whose members would be permitted to cultivate up to four plants each in a common space or clubhouse as long as total production doesn’t exceed 50 plants.

Such spaces would be required to have separate areas for the cultivation and use of marijuana and couldn’t be located in close proximity to schools, cultural institutions, sporting facilities or churches and other places of worship.

Bricks and mortar stores with the appropriate licenses would be permitted to sell marijuana for recreational purposes but the sale via vending machines, over the phone, online, or in any other way that is not face-to-face would be prohibited.

Advertising and other promotion of recreational marijuana would be banned if the proposed law passes as would cannabis-related sponsorship deals. People found violating provisions in the law would face hefty fines among a range of other penalties.

Meanwhile, people who have been gathering in a “cannabis garden-cum marijuana market” known as Plantón 420 outside the federal Senate building in Mexico City for the past year continue to act as if recreational marijuana has already been legalized and few if any restrictions apply to its use and commercialization.

Milenio reported that marijuana is sold and smoked openly in the Luis Pasteur park despite the presence of police, who turn a blind eye to the illicit activities. Among the products on sale are marijuana cigarettes, or joints, cannabis cookies, cupcakes, brownies, candy, “gummies” and tea as well as bags of high-grade pot known by the nickname Pablo Escobar, for the deceased Colombian drug lord.

A range of marijuana paraphernalia such as papers, pipes, bongs and scissors are also for sale right next to the Senate building, located on Paseo de la Reforma, Mexico City’s most emblematic boulevard.

Some pro-pot senators have visited the marijuana tolerance zone, where wafts of aromatic smoke are a constant, but the Senate itself asked the Mexico City government almost two weeks ago to remove it and its occupants. To date, however, it hasn’t acted on the request.

Source: Milenio (sp) 

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