Mexico Moves to Legalize Recreational Marijuana

Recreational marijuana may soon be legalized in Mexico. The bill, approved by the Chamber of Deputies and soon to be introduced to the Senate, not only allows adults to smoke marijuana recreationally, but allows permit holders to cultivate and sell it.

The legalization of marijuana in Mexico will likely make Mexico one of the world’s largest marijuana markets. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador also believes legalization could help combat the power of Mexican drug cartels. But security experts argue legalization in U.S. states has made marijuana a relatively small part of the Mexican drug trafficking business and Mexico’s legalization will not target the cartels’ main sources of influence.

In the latest iteration of the bill, the market will be regulated by the National Commission Against Addictions. The bill originally sought to create a new government agency for regulation, and some believe a new agency is necessary to regulate the complex market. Others believe more thought instead needs to go into protecting smaller growers and distributors to prevent large cannabis companies from dominating the market.

Many aspects of the bill have garnered approval, such as an individual’s ability to legally grow up to six plants and the relative ease with which small farmers and indigenous people could step into the market with priority licensing (though the effectiveness of that priority as spelled out in the bill is debated).

With more than 120 million people in Mexico, a legal recreational marijuana market could contribute to Mexico’s financial recovery after the pandemic.

President López Obrador is expected to approve the bill after review by the Senate.

Additional Reading

Mexican lawmakers advance bill to legalize recreational pot, Associated Press (March 11, 2021)

Mexico’s Congress approves landmark cannabis bill, Reuters (March 10, 2021)

Mexico Set to Legalize Marijuana, Becoming World’s Largest Market, The New York Times (March 10, 2021)

Image Credit: Jan Faukner /