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Mexico Moves to Legalize Marijuana

Mexico is a country long-riddled with problems centered around illegal drugs and their trade, yet a progressive movement is being made. They have begun the process to formally legalize marijuana. If this passes Mexico would become the second of three countries in North America to do so, the third country overall, and the largest country population-wise to legalize the drug in the world.

Originally up against a deadline of April 30, Mexico passed their marijuana bill through the Chamber of Deputies, their name for the lower house of Congress, earlier this week. The bill must pass through their upper house still before the law is officially put into place. It is heavily backed by Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, President of Mexico, whose Morena party controls both chambers of Congress.

Mexico’s marijuana bill mentions several licensing types in regards to the drug: for sale, research, cultivation, import, and export. The licenses would be limited to people 18 years and older being the only ones eligible to carry, grow, or use marijuana.

How would legal marijuana in Mexico affect the United States? As it stands, marijuana is already legalized in Canada, and being sandwiched between two countries that offer full legalization could push Joe Biden to legalize it federally. Andrew Rudman, director of the Mexico Institute at the Wilson Center agrees that this could be the push America needed “ to decriminalize or legalize… Mexico probably gives more impetus to something that might have happened anyway,” since most states have already begun moving toward some form of legalization.

At the end of last year, the U.S. House passed a bill, colloquially referred to as The MORE Act, which would end federal penalties on marijuana and give clean slates to those who have been penalized for marijuana-related crimes. SImilarly to Mexico, this bill still needs to pass through the Senate and acquire the president’s signature, which is not expected soon. A review of the new president and vice president’s stances on cannabis show that Biden is in favor of ending criminal penalties, but does not want full legalization. Whereas Vice President Kamala Harris was a sponsor of the Senate’s version of the MORE Act that passed the House last session.

Joe Biden does seem to be stacking the deck in favor of legalization. His new appointee for secretary of Health and Human Services, Xavier Barrera, has a history of backing marijuana legalization, and it would not be surprising if Barrera took office and tweaked the 2015 statement made by the Department of Health and Human Services suggesting that marijuana offered no medical benefits. Besides, recently appointed United States Attorney General Merrick Garland has spoken out in the past against using federal resources to police marijuana and its affiliated issues.

As more states have legalized the drug, marijuana seizures at the U.S.-Mexico border have plummeted. From 2015-2020, there was an 83% drop in marijuana repossessed at the border, which leaves American residents wondering what kind of impact this will have regarding drug smuggling moving forward. Will drug cartels continue moving marijuana in smarter ways, or will they shift to other drugs that there might be greater demand for, as sanctions on marijuana continue to be lifted


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