A marijuana legalization bill to be presented in the Senate on Thursday will stipulate some – but not total – government control over sales and distribution, according to a senator with the ruling Morena party.
In an interview with the newspaper Milenio, Julio Menchaca said the U.S. state of Colorado, where recreational marijuana was legalized in 2014, will serve as the “best example” about how to regulate the drug in Mexico.
“The state will not be a promoter of recreational use,” the senator said in response to a question about whether the streets will be flooded with pot smokers.
“[The state] must guarantee respect for people’s right to consume it, the right to free development of personality as the Supreme Court ruled, with specific restrictions for minors,” Menchaca said.
Probed on the possibility of the government creating a state-owned company to control the sale and distribution of marijuana – as Morena’s leader in the lower house of Congress, Mario Delgado, proposed earlier this month – the senator responded:
“There are 11 [legalization] proposals, and there are those who are asking for it to be totally deregulated, for there to be no control. Others are asking for strict and rigid state control. We’ll try to reach middle ground but . . . there will always be participation of the state with a control [over sales and distribution].”
Menchaca, president of the Senate’s justice commission, said the aim of government participation in a legal marijuana market is to put an end to the narco-controlled black market for the drug.
As part of the process to prepare a draft marijuana law, lawmakers looked at the way in which the plant was legalized and regulated in two U.S. states, he explained.
In one there was very strict control and illegal sales soared, Menchaca said, without revealing the state to which he was referring.
“In the other [state], it was made accessible, taxes are paid [on legal marijuana purchases] . . . and [illegal sales] decreased. Colorado is the best example, [the legislative process] is about learning from successful experiences in other places,” he added.
The lawmaker also said that a legalization proposal presented by Interior Secretary Olga Sánchez is “very articulate” and could provide a base not only the regulation of recreational and medicinal marijuana but also the use of hemp in the textile industry.
However, he added that all the proposals presented have good points that “we could be translating into law.”
After warning that that the excessive use of marijuana “will cause harm like any irregular substance,” Menchaca said that legalization is necessary because its illegality has “generated mafias, violence, death . . . [and] a whole range of weaknesses of the Mexican state.”
Lawmakers will work on Monday to “polish” the text of the bill to be presented on Thursday, the senator said, explaining that the cultivation of marijuana for personal use, the number of grams a person will be able to possess and the sale of seeds are among the issues still under consideration.
Menchaca acknowledged that lawmakers in both houses of Congress still have a lot to discuss but echoed the prediction of Morena Senate leader Ricardo Monreal that marijuana will be legalized before the end of the month.
“. . . [The law] will come out this month, the conditions are right for that to occur.”
Source: Milenio (sp)