Mexico set to join the legal cannabis nations
Mexico unveiled the draft of their recreational cannabis bill on October 17th. Apparently, the ball is rolling quite fast, and marijuana could be legal as early as this week.
In fact, some would argue that cannabis is already legal in Mexico for recreational use. After all, the Supreme Court ruled last year, for the fifth time, that a cannabis ban is unconstitutional. Those rulings have already cleared the way for cannabis use in Mexico, so the actual upcoming legislation is kind of a formality, tailored mostly to how the use of cannabis should be regulated and/or implemented.
This would make Mexico the third country in the world to actually legalise recreational cannabis use via federal legislation, behind Uruguay and Canada. South Africa’s highest court also legalised recreational cannabis use last year, and cannabis use is legal, to some extent, in 33 states and Washington D.C. in the United states, and 11 of those states have legalised the drug for recreational use.
To say there’s a global cannabis-friendly trend right now is an understatement. Cannabis is the news of today, and there seems to be no signs of that slowing down any time soon.
The same is true, here, in New Zealand, where Kiwis eagerly await the opportunity to vote on whether or not cannabis should be legal, through next year’s referendum.
Mexico is likely next in the legal cannabis line. Could New Zealand follow after the 2020 referendum?
After legalising cannabis for medical use last year, New Zealand announced a referendum for recreational cannabis will hold in 2020. If citizens vote Yes to legal recreational cannabis, this move will mark New Zealand as the first country to legalise cannabis via a national referendum.
New Zealanders are likely to vote Yes for cannabis in 2020. Source.
It’s also likely that such a move will make New Zealand the fourth nation to legalise recreational cannabis if Mexico finalises theirs quite soon, as expected, or the fifth if you count South Africa’s judicial decision on cannabis.
This could be a good thing for New Zealand, because there would be ample examples of recreational cannabis policy on the national level that can be reviewed to implement a near perfect cannabis law here. Let’s take a look at Mexico’s bill, for example, along with Canada and the legal states in the US.
Mexico’s bill, laws from Canada and US states, could serve as examples for New Zealand after the 2020 referendum
Legal cannabis in Mexico will resemble Canada and the US states where recreational cannabis is legal, in some aspects. However, Mexico takes some steps that are outside the current recreational cannabis mold.
Here are two key differences between Mexico’s legal cannabis bill and other countries and regions:
- Mexicans aged 18 and over will be allowed to use cannabis. This is not the norm; other areas where cannabis is legal for recreational use typically set an age restriction of 21 years and over.
- Edibles and cannabis beverages will only be allowed for medical use. This also isn’t the norm; elsewhere, edibles are big business for the recreational cannabis market.
- Mexico will give licensing priority to low-income earners, small time farmers, and indigenous peoples.
These are significant diversions from the norm. If Mexico does go through with these parts of the bill, then it could open the door to more leeway in the cannabis legalisation blueprint. Perhaps having a country where cannabis is legal for those aged 18 years could answer a lot of questions regarding the many fears associated with cannabis and teenagers or young adults. The idea of limiting a particular kind of cannabis preparation (in this case, edibles and beverages) to a certain group, is also quite interesting. Mexico would serve as a great example for New Zealand in this regard as well.
But by far the biggest part of Mexico’s bill that should get the most attention is the licensing priority scheme. By giving priority to those in the low income sector, the small time farmers, and indigenous people, the local economy and employment will experience a boost.
Unlike other areas where big companies get an unfair advantage, locals will be given a much-needed head start in Mexico. New Zealand should certainly consider this as a policy option if Kiwi’s vote Yes next year.
Expect more global cannabis news in the coming months and years -- the crop isn’t going anywhere. With Mexico and South Africa raising questions about whether banning cannabis is even constitutional, the landscape is clearly moving towards a legal cannabis world. With New Zealand expecting a national referendum on the legal cannabis issue next year, nations would have a third way to approach the legalisation issue:
- Federal legislation,
- Judicial high court, and
- National referendum
With the growing number of countries and regions legalising cannabis, New Zealand will have ample opportunity to learn which country’s policies to adopt as a blueprint for a near-perfect cannabis implementation.