Mexico officials made history this week when congress approved a bill that would decriminalize cannabis and legalize both medically and recreationally.
The decision was finalized by Mexico’s lower house of Congress on March 10 with a 316 to 127 vote, which according to U.S. News & World Report is supported by current President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
Legalization in Mexico has been an exciting prospect for some time and could have an immense impact on the global market overall. There is also hope that if the bill is passed, it will help to end violence associated with illegal drug cartels. “Today we are making history,” said Simey Olvera, a lawmaker from the Morena party, which is the same party as the president. She was reportedly wearing a mask with cannabis leaves on it when she made the statement. “With this, the false belief that cannabis forms part of Mexico’s serious health problems is left behind.”
If the bill officially becomes law, it will create five types of licenses for the industry, covering sale, production, cultivation, research, and finally, import and export. Those 18 years of age or older would need a permit, and then would be able to buy or grow cannabis.
Many other countries have experienced enormous benefits following legalization of cannabis. Uruguay made a huge splash in 2013 when it became the first country to legalize cannabis in modern times, and suddenly set a new precedent for how countries can deal with drug, gang, and cartel problems. Now, Argentina, Chile, Columbia and Peru all allow medical cannabis use, paving the way for other countries to do the same. Canada took it a step further and fully legalized cannabis for recreational use as well. According to the Director of Drug Policy for the Washington Office on Latin America, John Walsh, Mexico would likely see similar changes. “Mexico, given its size and its worldwide reputation for being damaged by the drug war, to take this step is enormously significant,” said Walsh.Next, the Senate will need to approve the bill before it can make it to the president for final signature.