Cannabis legalization advances in Mexico among criticism from civil observers

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MEXICO CITY (Sputnik) – The bill that will legalize the production and consumption of marijuana in Mexico advances in the Senate even with doubts from organizations, consulted by Sputnik, that promote its use and responsible production but consider the initiative to be favorable to economic conglomerates.

“We are very concerned that the marijuana industry is benefiting too much, for example it is contemplated that only seeds that directly import the government can be grown,” the drug policy coordinator of the Mexican United civil organization told Sputnik Crime (MUCD), Víctor Gutiérrez.

For the expert who lobbies in Congress during the discussion of the 230-page document, approved last week in senatorial commissions, another objection concerns the government controls on seeds, intended for the cultivation and production of the plant.
The majority-approved opinion must become a law before April 30, a deadline set by the Supreme Court of Justice, which in 2015 declared articles and fractions that prohibited the use of marijuana for recreational purposes as unconstitutional.
The list of nonconformities of citizen observers also questions the mandatory nature of get a tax record for self-cultivation clubs and small producer communities.

They consider “too strict the rules on packaging and severe fines for those who carry, without a permit from competent authority”, more than the limit of 28 grams of marijuana.

“The good thing is that this opinion has only been generally approved and the article-by-article discussion is missing within the Senate committees and it is the right time to make the necessary modifications to favor Mexicans and not large industries,” Gutierrez pointed out.

The initiative was approved on March 5 in united committees of Justice, Health and Legislative Studies of the Senate, with 26 votes in favor, seven against and eight abstentions; and on March 6 it will be discussed in an extraordinary session by lawmakers, before being sent to the full of 128 senators.
The project advances with the support of the leader in the Senate of the official National Regeneration Movement (Morena, left), Ricardo Monreal, who proclaimed that “yes there will be a new law for the decriminalization and use of marijuana, all we need is the consensus, which has not been achieved. ”
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador expressed his opposition to the recreational use of cannabis, which he considers as one of the causes of crime and criminal violence, while only supporting medicinal use.

A law that would criminalize

For his part, Zara Snapp, international expert on drug trafficking issues and founder of the RIA Institute for advocacy in public policies, told Sputnik that the approved initiative as a whole is “very positive”, although it still contains some items that generate concern , because they generate a new “criminalization”.

“The senators added many penalties and very high fines for breaking the law, somehow, such as smoking on public roads, you have to be very careful not to increase the criminalization of people,” said Snapp, who has several years of experience in international organizations, focused on the Colombian and Mexican cases.

The specialist, author of the “Drug Dictionary”, said that a law that has a positive effect requires “contemplating some of the changes we want from civil society, such as increasing the number of percentage of licenses that go to the social sector.”

It also recommends “raising the number of authorized plants and partners to integrate self-cultivation associations, and eliminate simple possession”, which will be penalized if it exceeds the mentioned limit.

Other changes include the regulation on the so-called “traceability” of the production process.

The traceability regulation refers to the fact that “it must be demonstrated that all seeds must demonstrate a lawful origin which means that they would have to be imported from other sides.”

This regulation makes it a requirement “that becomes inaccessible” for small farmers and self-cultivators, said the expert.

Snapp considered that another necessary modification is to “increase the number of plants allowed for self-cultivation and also increase the number of members of cannabis associations, so that these two routes are not an obstacle for people who want to grow in their home without ends trade”.

Article 13 of the bulky bill, to which Sputnik had access, grants the possibility for people “who due to their health condition require sowing, cultivating, harnessing, preparing and transforming more than 20 cannabis plants, to request a permit “to make a crop where they can obtain up to 480 grams per year.

Cooperatives or production associations for self-consumption can also be created with up to 150 members that can advance crops from which they can obtain up to that amount close to half a kilo per year for each one.

For a good part of the twentieth century, marijuana fed drug trafficking routes controlled by criminal organizations, but in recent years it was displaced in the illegal trade that these groups are heading towards the US for other substances, such as cocaine and especially synthetic drugs.

Civil organizations estimate that in 2021 the legal cannabis market will reach values ​​over 30,000 million dollars, with 80% concentrated on transactions in North America.

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