Lawmakers in Mexico passed the bill on Wednesday Mar. 10 that would legalize recreational marijuana.
Mexico’s lower house approved the bill with 316-to-216 votes. The bill will now go to the Senate for a final vote, which President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s party expects to pass through, according to BBC.
If passed, the law is expected to turn the country into one of the world’s largest regulated cannabis markets.
The legislation would allow adults 18 years and older to carry up to 28 grams of marijuana and grow up to eight cannabis plants at home, the BBC reported. It would also allow for licenses for the cultivation, transformation, sale, research and export or import of cannabis, according to Reuters.
“Today we are in a historic moment. With this, the false belief that cannabis is part of Mexico’s serious public health problems is left behind,” Simey Olvera, a lawmaker with the Morena party, said, according to the New York Times.
Proponents of the bill believe the decriminalization of cannabis would help tackle the country’s severe drug war and that the marijuana market presented by the legislation would also help contribute to the economy hurt by the pandemic.
Critics, however, argue it would not necessarily decrease the rates of cartel-related violence. A recent poll showed nearly two thirds of people in the country oppose legalizing marijuana.
If the bill is approved, Mexico would join Uruguay and Canada, becoming the third country to legalize cannabis, including recreational use, nationwide. Several foreign companies from Canada and California have expressed interest in tapping into the market, according to BBC.