Mexico hits snooze on hemp legalization until next spring

The Supreme Court of Mexico has again extended the deadline for legislators to comply with a mandate to legalize industrial hemp and adult-use marijuana.

Congress can now legislate on this matter until the end of the next ordinary session period, which starts in February 2021 and ends in April.

The Mexican Chamber of Deputies – the lower house – asked the Supreme Court on Wednesday for an extension on the Dec. 15 deadline to legalize all forms of cannabis. The court had called for legislation after ruling that prohibiting cannabis use is unconstitutional.

In November, the Senate approved the bill to establish a hemp and marijuana marketplace and sent it to the lower house for a vote.

The bill sets a 1% THC limit for hemp, calls for the creation of a new government agency to regulate the cannabis market and requires that 40% of cultivation licenses for the first five years of the law be granted to farmers, indigenous communities and others impacted by the country’s cannabis prohibition.

Upcoming elections may weigh on the timing of a lower house vote, with the 500 seats of the Chamber of Deputies up for election in June. According to a poll published by the Center for Social Studies and Public Opinion in May 2020, a clear majority of Mexicans were against recreational cannabis legalization.

The new 2021 target for legislators to comply with the mandate is the third extension since the original October 2019 deadline. That target was extended to April 2020 and then to December 2020, though the first extension was supposed to be “exceptional and one-time only.”

Legislating amid the COVID-19 pandemic was cited as the main justification for the most recent extension.