The new president isn’t even in place yet, but a big liberalization of Mexico’s marijuana laws is expected to be officially pursued Thursday.
Senator Olga Sanchez, President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s choice for interior minister, plans to submit a bill to create a medical marijuana industry and allow recreational use.
The proposal goes so far as to let smokers inhale in public places.
That would be a big step by the incoming government to shake up the country’s drug war.
Mexico would join Canada, Uruguay and some U.S. states in allowing and commercializing recreational pot.
Mexico, which banned marijuana in the early 20th century, has been racked by a decade of conflict between cartels over supply routes for a variety of illicit drugs.
In the 26-page bill, Sanchez wrote that Mexico’s marijuana laws have contributed to crime and violence. In the 12 years since Mexico launched a war on cartels, 235,000 people have been killed.
“The objective can’t be to eradicate the consumption of a substance that’s as prevalent as cannabis is,” wrote the former Supreme Court magistrate, in Spanish.
Although the coalition led by the president-elect’s Morena party has a majority in both houses, a conservative movement still exists and may create hurdles. The bill must survive several committees before reaching a vote.
Under the measure, individuals would be allowed to cultivate plants for private use as long as they register in an anonymous government listing and produce no more than 480 grams/one pound of marijuana yearly.
The Supreme Court last week ruled that an absolute ban on recreational marijuana was unconstitutional, paving the way for the new law.
Former President Vicente Fox has been an outspoken advocate for such legalization. In July, he joined the board of Khiron Life Sciences Corp., one of several legitimate Canadian weed companies. Fox was already on the board of Hightimes Holding Corp., which owns High Times magazine.