Mexico’s Plan to Legalize Marijuana May Pressure Texas to Expand Medical-Only Restriction

Homegrown indoor pot plants and leaves. (PHOTO: Thinkstock)

Mexico’s Chamber of Representatives passed a bill on Wednesday, March 10th, that would fully legalize marijuana nationwide. If the bill passes the country’s Senate, it could force the bordering state of Texas to reconsider its current restrictions that only allow low-dose marijuana products for people with certain medical conditions.

Mexico’s bill would allow people over the age of 18 to possess up to nearly one ounce of cannabis and between six to eight plants in a home with an annual permit. It would also allow people to smoke it publicly like tobacco.

The country’s Supreme Court gave legislators a deadline of April 30 to legalize it after declaring its criminalization unconstitutional in 2018. Because the Chamber and Senate are both controlled by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s MORENA political party, the measure is expected to pass, according to Vice News. Obrador has said he won’t oppose the law.

While Mexico was once a major supplier of marijuana to the Lone Star State, smugglers from Colorado, California and Oregon have begun bringing legalized recreational marijuana from those states into Texas, Dean Becker, an expert in drug policy, told The Houston Chronicle.NEWSWEEK SUBSCRIPTION OFFERS >

marijuana cannabis Mexico Texas medical legalization border
With Mexico poised to legalize marijuana nationwide as late as next month, its legalization may put pressure on the bordering state of Texas to reconsider its current restrictions which currently allow certain kinds of low-dose cannabis products for specific medical conditions. In this May 6, 2017 photo, activists march along Reforma avenue in Mexico City on demanding the legalization of cannabis.YURI CORTEZ / AFP/GETTY

Recreational marijuana is currently illegal in Texas, though the state allows for people with specific medical conditions to use low-dose cannabis products.

The Texas market for Mexican marijuana could grow if smugglers are suddenly able to transport nearby quantities into the state. The drug’s legalization could also disrupt the violence and trafficking networks established by Mexican cartels. However, those cartels will remain active in the U.S. as they also make hundreds of millions from selling cocaine, heroin and other illegal drugs stateside, drug policy experts told The Washington Post.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has said that he supports decriminalization efforts to reduce penalties for small-scale possession. In 2019, state legislators introduced a dozen bills to decriminalize the drug and legalize its recreational use. But the state’s crawl towards legalization has been slow.

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