MEXICO is set to legalise marijuana and create the “world’s largest legal market” in a bid to combat the country’s powerful drug cartels.
The legislation, backed by Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, looks almost certain to be approved after a 316-129 vote in the country’s lower house.
Cannabis consumers march as lawmakers met to discuss the landmark billCredit: EPA
Lawmakers who supported the bill said it would “contribute to achieving peace” after the deaths of more than 300,000 people in a gruesome war with the cartels.
It is hoped creating a legal, regulated cannabis market will deprive the cartels of their market and empty prisons of small-time weed users.
Simey Olvera, a lawmaker from Lopez Obrador’s ruling Morena party who was wearing a mask with marijuana leaves printed on it, said: “Today we are making history.
“With this, the false belief that cannabis forms part of Mexico’s serious health problems is left behind.”
But critics of the bill fear legalising the drug would increase the “rate of consumption and addiction” in the country.
And some experts fear transnational corporations will be the primary beneficiaries rather than consumers or the farmers who have formed the lowest rung of the drug chain.
Today we are making history
Simey Olvera, lawmaker
The approved legislation, which needs to return to the Senate, would permit recreational use of marijuana but establish a system of licenses required for the entire chain of production, distribution, transformation and sales.
It would also require that individuals, and not just associations of users, have a permit to grow plants for personal use.
Each individual would be allowed to have six plants with a maximum of eight