Mexico lawmakers approve bill to legalize recreational marijuana

Mexico lawmakers approve bill to legalize recreational marijuana
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Mexican lawmakers on Wednesday night greenlighted a bill to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

The Mexican legislature’s lower chamber, the Chamber of Deputies, passed the legislation by a 316-129 vote, with 23 abstentions. The ruling followed a decision by the Mexican Supreme Court in 2018 ruling that the federal prohibition of recreational use of the drug is unconstitutional.

Mexico had legalized medical cannabis more than three years ago. 

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The bill will be subject for revisions before heading to the upper chamber, where it is broadly anticipated to be passed. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has also voiced support for lifting the federal prohibition on recreational weed. 

The legislation as it currently stands would permit adult use of recreational cannabis and allow people to apply for permits to grow small numbers of marijuana plants. Businesses will also be allowed to grow and sell hemp.

Canada and Uruguay are the only other two countries in the Western hemisphere that have legalized recreational marijuana at a national level.

Supporters argue that legalizing pot will open up a new market for tax revenue for the Mexican government and make a dent in the drug war across the country. 

However, critics have said the law will do little to curtail violence, particularly given how drugs such as fentanyl have become top products for drug cartels over cannabis, which has been legalized in some form in dozens of states in the U.S.