After an extended period of uncertainty, lawmakers in Mexico finally voted in favor of marijuana legalization across the country. Recall that we reported last week that Mexico’s congress was set to vote on a marijuana legalization bill this week. The result of that vote was a resounding victory for pro-marijuana advocates.
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Similarly, more U.S. states have also either legalized cannabis via congress or are making strong efforts to do so. These states include Hawaii and Wyoming where marijuana legalization has been approved and under consideration respectively at their state congresses. The following explores what to expect as Mexico legalizes marijuana and also legalization updates from several U.S. states.
What next, after lawmakers approve weed legalization in Mexico?
On Wednesday, lawmakers in Mexico’s lower house of Congress (Chamber of Deputies) passed legislation to legalize marijuana nationwide. The votes were 316 in favor of passing the bill and 129 against, with 23 absent. Many supporters of this bill believe that it will ultimately help to debunk the myth that cannabis forms part of Mexico’s serious health problems. This bill has the full support of Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and his left-wing Morena party.
The next step will be for the upper house (Senate) to vote on this bill. Note that the Mexican Senate had already voted on this bill last November. However, changes made by the lower house now mean the bill will be subjected to another vote in the Senate. Although this marijuana legalization bill faces stiff opposition from members of the right-wing Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and conservative National Action Party (PAN), the Morena party holds the majority in the Senate. This means that this bill will most likely be passed by the upper house.
Lawmakers in Hawaii approve marijuana legalization bill
The Hawaii Senate has on Tuesday approved a bill to legalize marijuana state-wide. The Senate also approved another bill aimed at expanding the state’s existing cannabis decriminalization law. More importantly, both bills were passed by the house with a veto-proof majority, given that the Governor of Hawaii, David Ige, has previously voiced his concerns about marijuana reforms.
The other law aims to revamp the state’s marijuana decriminalization policy. For instance, the current decriminalization policy stipulates that a fine of $130 and no threat of jail time is suitable as punishment for possession of three grams or less of marijuana. However, the new law increased the possession threshold to 30 grams and was overwhelmingly supported by the Senators in a 24-1 vote.
Meanwhile, there are reports that a key lawmaker in Hawaii may be set to quash the marijuana legalization bill in the state, despite the recent approval by the Senate. Senator Mark Nakashima who chairs the House Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs Committee has been very vocal for the state to focus on its existing medical marijuana industry before pushing for adult-use.
Although the bill is yet to reach his committee, there are signals that he might kill it. This has led to broader concerns among marijuana advocates that a single individual could simply end a bill despite approval from other lawmakers.
Wyoming lawmakers finally pushing for cannabis legalization
Members of The Wyoming Congress are currently pushing for marijuana legalization. A pro-marijuana bill is currently being sponsored by Republicans and is expected to get a hearing this week. Interestingly, House Bill 209 is co-sponsored by twelve representatives and two senators. The bill will generally license cannabis companies that grow, test, manufacture, transport, or sell marijuana.
House Bill 209 aims to regulate marijuana in Wyoming. It would effectively license the cultivation and sale of marijuana and tax cannabis products. By imposing a 30% levy on cannabis sales, HB 209 aims to generate around $47 million from the cannabis industry. While most of the revenue will go to the school foundation fund, the rest will go to the local government of the jurisdiction where the cannabis product was sold.
The marijuana legalization wrap
Every week, federal marijuana legalization across the U.S. is looking more likely than ever. With Mexico finally legalizing weed and many U.S. states looking to do the same, it would seem that the wind of change is here. Many voters and politicians already agree, however, the law needs to play catchup.
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