Mexican Senate Approves Cannabis Legalization Bill

Article Written By Luis Armendariz

On November 19, 2020, the Mexican Senate approved the draft of the Federal Law for the Regulation of Cannabis (Ley Federal para la Regulación del Cannabis, or the “Bill”), marking a historic landmark in the legalization process subject to a Supreme Court deadline to legalize on or before December 15, 2020.

Mexican Senate Approved Draft of the Federal Law for the Regulation of Cannabis

It is worth noting that such approval does not imply that legalization is now in force and legal effect. The legislative process requires that the Bill is now analyzed and reviewed by the country’s Lower House (Camara de Diputados), who may return it to the Senate with any minor changes or adjustments. Once approved by both Houses, the Bill will be analyzed and reviewed by the President for his sign off and publication in the Federal Official Gazette.

Some highlights of the Bill include:

  • It authorizes recreational (referred to as adult-use), research (not including medical-related), and industrial uses.
  • A new agency will be created: the Mexican Cannabis Institute (Instituto Mexicano del Cannabis, or “IMC”), which will depend on the Health Ministry and must be operating no later than six months after Bill’s publication in the Federal Official Gazette.
  • There will be five types of licenses available to be granted by the: cultivation, processing, sale, export/import, and research.
  • The threshold to distinguish psychoactive cannabis and hemp is at 1% THC.
  • Edibles and beverages will be allowed, provided they do not contain 1% THC or more (psychoactive cannabis).
  • For many, the regulatory burden on hemp is the same as cannabis in general, creating obstacles for industrial hemp development.
  • The vertical integration ban was eased, allowing any holder of a cultivation, processing, or sales license to hold an import/export license.
  • In a change made a few days before releasing the latest draft, import and export of psychoactive cannabis will not be allowed.

It is important to note that medical, palliative, and therapeutic cannabis use will be regulated by the Medical Cannabis Use Rules deriving from the 2017 amendments that legalized such use. The draft is in the final review stage and is expected to be issued soon by the Secretary of Health.


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