Cannabis news and notes: Mexico looks to legalize cannabis

Nov 10, 2020

With historic wins for cannabis in last week’s election, all eyes have turned to Mexico, which is working diligently on a legalization plan of its own. According to a report in the Washington Post, Mexican lawmakers have until mid-December to legalize the plant thanks to a court order.

Many cannabis legalization advocates in Mexico believe that legalizing the drug will cut into the country’s illicit market trade while also creating jobs. However, as the country comes under the wire, issues have arisen. Many advocates are now worried that current legislation favors big corporations as opposed to small, family-run businesses. There are also concerns that too little is being done to address the harms of the illegal drug trade.

“The truth is we’re just a few weeks away from the vote and we don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Julio Salazar, a senior lawyer and legalization advocate with the nonprofit group Mexico United Against Crime, according to the Washington Post. “I'm not sure if the initiative being pushed by Congress actually makes things better. It makes a cannabis market for the rich and continues to use criminal law to perpetuate a drug war that has damaged the poorest people with the least opportunities.”

At issue with the new law is a provision that would require anyone who wishes to purchase cannabis to register for a special license. Advocates believe that this law will turn off users, pushing them back to the illicit market.

According to the Washington Post, Ricardo Monreal, the Senate leader of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s ruling Morena party, said that various legalization models were considered. 

“We want a legal framework that can bring some of these players in from the illegal market into a legal one,” said Zara Snapp, co-founder of the RIA Institute, a Mexico City-based drug policy research, and advocacy group, according to the Washington Post. “The purchase price needs to be low enough to undercut the illegal market for consumers. … You also have to make sure there are enough entry points for [growers] to move over.”

New Jersey looks towards cannabis crops

Now that cannabis will be legal in New Jersey, farmers hope to cash in on the new business. According to a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer, struggling farmers want a piece of the new cannabis economy when it sets up shop.

According to the Inquirer, Michael Di Croce, the mayor of Shamong Township, Burlington County, wants his community to have the first crack at it. He’s hoping that he can “lower local property taxes and maybe even build a community center with an Olympic size pool.”

“I think it’s fantastic,” Di Croce told the Inquirer about the recent vote. “Farmers … have been struggling for a long time.”

But no one knows what the new rules will look like, as the state legislature still has to come together to craft the law around the recently passed referendum.

"The region’s been growing agricultural products for hundreds of years,' said Adam Goers, a vice president at Columbia Care, a large, publicly-traded marijuana company, according to the Inquirer. “It’s really well-positioned to be a leader in marijuana cultivation and processing.”

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