Progressive politicians in Mexico have been pursuing the decriminalization of recreational marijuana for years, fueled by a ruling by the country’s Supreme Court in October 2018 that the continued ban was unconstitutional.
Earlier this year, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador signed rules intended to regulate marijuana for medical purposes.
“Today we are making history,” said Sandra Simey Olvera, member of the Chamber of the Morena party of Mr López Obrador, on Wednesday evening.
“That leaves the false belief that cannabis is part of Mexico’s serious health problems.”
Proponents argued that a newly legalized marijuana trade was not much of a lure given cartels that had diversified into more lucrative income streams like amphetamines and cocaine, and non-drug businesses like mining and agriculture.
“Organized crime in Mexico has diversified significantly over the past two decades, so that it is no longer just about drugs,” said Ernst.
“But the shadow is there. If you continue to grow marijuana in these regions, criminal control is very high, very deep, and it is likely that they will try to get into that business too or blackmail the growers.
“It also seems likely that larger companies will be favored, so the local farmers who have grown marijuana for decades are unlikely to be the main beneficiaries.”
In 2020, Mexican authorities seized 244 tons of cannabis.
President Lopez Obrador sees the legalization of some drugs as a way to improve security in a country plagued by drug-related violence.
More than 300,000 people have been murdered since the government deployed the army to fight cartels in 2006.