Lawmakers in Mexico have paved the path for the creation of the world’s largest legal marijuana market. Mexico’s Senate approved a landmark cannabis legalization bill in a landslide vote on Thursday. The bill’s next hurdle is the lower house of Congress.
Lawmakers are rushing to secure final approval before the end of the current congressional session in December, according to Reuters. If enacted, the reform would mark a major shift in a country where drug cartel violence in recent years has claimed over 100,000 lives.
The Supreme Court ruled in 2018 that recreational marijuana should be permitted, just one year after lawmakers legalized it for medicinal use. Socially conservative President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has shied away from publicly backing the legalization push, but neither has he opposed it, and senior cabinet members like Interior Minister Olga Sanchez have openly called for a shift to legalization and regulation.
Lopez Obrador’s left-of-center Morena party, which backed the initiative, holds a majority in both chambers of Congress with its allies, according to the article. The bill’s text claims its goal is to “improve living conditions” and “contribute to the reduction of crime linked to drug trafficking.”