Following in the footsteps of Uruguay and Canada, as well as 30 US states, Mexico is set to adopt a new law which will make cannabis legal for both medicinal and recreational use. New legislation by Mexico’s ruling majority party hopes to “cut the chain” of illegal supply.
Olga Sánchez Cordero, interior minister in Mexico’s new leftist nationalist government, has recently submitted a Bill to Congress which would effectively end prohibition of cannabis, placing the new rescheduled substance under a regime of state regulation.
Mexico had a brief foray into the legalization of drugs back in 1940 when Lázaro Cárdenas, the former Mexican president who had nationalized Mexico’s oil sector in 1938. Cárdenas lifted all state restrictions on narcotics like heroin, morphine and cocaine, which allowed addicts to be treated as patients, rather than felons. State dispensaries sold small amounts to individuals at prices which vastly undercut those of illegal street dealers. The move was reversed after only after 6 months – because of intense diplomatic pressure from the US.
The new law could also open up numerous opportunities for independent entrepreneurs like 17-year-old Nicolás Calderón who hopes to open a cannabis shop and art venue in Mexico City, as well as develop his own cultivation site and supply chain.
“I don’t just see an opportunity to make money but also to help Mexico […] I think this is going to help reduce el narco [the cartels] a lot,” said Calderón to the Financial Times.
However, as on the world’s largest producers of illegal narcotics, the Mexican state will no doubt face intense competition from black markets run by the country’s vast organized crime cartels on which former president Felipe Calderón had unsuccessfully declared ‘war’ 12 years ago.
“I think the cartels will lose 40 per cent of their income with [marijuana] legal here and in the US,” said Vicente Fox, Mexico’s president from 2000 to 2006, in an interview with the FT. Fox currently sits on the board of Canadian cannabis company Khiron Life Sciences – which hopes to enter the Mexican cannabis market later this year [. . .]