The Supreme Court (SCJN) on Thursday granted an extension to the lower house of Congress to debate the recreational use of marijuana.
The court, which ruled last year that laws prohibiting the use of marijuana are unconstitutional, had set a December 15 limit for approval after extending previous deadlines.
The Senate approved a bill last month to legalize pot’s recreational use before passing it to the Chamber of Deputies for revision and a vote.
Lower house lawmakers requested an extension on the grounds that the bill was complex and time was limited.
Dulce María Sauri, an Institutional Revolutionary Party deputy and president of the lower house, said in a letter to the court’s chief justice that the Chamber of Deputies has an obligation to listen to “all interested voices” on the legalization subject. She also said that the Congress must guarantee the opportunity for “wide debate” among lawmakers.
“Due to the complexity of the issue … extending the period granted [for legalization] to the next ordinary sitting period is courteously requested,” Sauri wrote.
With the court’s approval, the Chamber of Deputies will now have until the end of their first 2021 sitting period in late April to make the recreational use of marijuana legal.
If deputies fail to do so, the SCJN could formally declare that all laws prohibiting the plant’s recreational use are unconstitutional.
Once recreational use is approved – considered inevitable because of the court’s 2019 ruling and support for legalization from the ruling Morena party – Mexico will become the world’s largest legal marijuana market.
The bill passed by the Senate allows the possession of up to 28 grams of marijuana by adults but they would be prohibited from smoking in front of children.
People would be permitted to grow up to six plants at home and a licensing system for large-scale production and sale would be established.