News, Politics

The US Finds Itself Embedded in a Federally Legal Cannabis Sandwich

January 4, 2021 12:40 pm ET Estimated Read Time: 5 Minutes
The US Finds Itself Embedded in a Federally Legal Cannabis Sandwich

The United States is set to become sandwiched between two countries that have legalized cannabis on the national level. This comes as Mexico moves ahead with its legislation to federally legalize cannabis for a variety of uses. The United States will thus be stuck between Canada and Mexico’s federally legal cannabis statutes. Will there be an impact on the United States? Currently, the citizens of Canada are free to consume cannabis for both recreational and medicinal purposes thanks to national legalization. Canada’s cannabis legalization has made history as its legalization happened ahead of the rest and it marked the beginning of mobilizing the global cannabis market. When Canada legalized cannabis several years ago, they managed to channel a lot of funds through the Canadian markets since the federal legalization of cannabis made such opportunities viable. Will the federal legalization of cannabis in Mexico have similar opportunities for their markets? Let’s find out. 

What is Federal Legalization?

Federal legalization can be defined as reclassifying something that was previously classified as illicit into something that is no longer illicit but at the level of the governing system. Federal means that it relates to the system of government where the federal government is the head of the house, where the states remain independent but heed the federal government. 

For example, if we look at the state of cannabis legalization in the United States, we would find that several states have legalized cannabis on the premise of their own design but cannabis remains illegal at a federal level. This means that in those states, cannabis may be used according to state regulation but that the federal government has the right to pursue anyone outside of state lines permitting cannabis use. 

The federal legalization of cannabis in Canada and (soon-to-be) Mexico means that there is only one set of cannabis regulations that apply to the entire country but this also means that citizens will be allowed to consume cannabis in any state of the country. Federal legalization is better than what the United States has going on- simply due to the fact that federal legalization grants ALL citizens the equal rights and responsibilities of cannabis consumption. In the United States, many citizens often have to cross states if they are looking for cannabis in a legal setting. 

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Mexico’s Legalization Progress

Mexico is set to become the largest populated country in the world to legalize cannabis and is also predicted to see the biggest consumer market for cannabis products.  Mexico has a population of around 125 million people who will all be benefiting from this big leap towards cannabis legalization. Mexico is currently on track to becoming only the third country to legalize cannabis not only for medical purposes but also for recreational use. Canada and Uruguay are the two other countries that have legalized cannabis for medicinal and recreational purposes, which has set the example for Mexico. Mexico’s Senate has decided to approve the cannabis legalization bill and will be moving forward to creating a legal framework for turning the illicit market into a licit one. 

For many years, the Mexican cannabis market has been the center of cartel business but since certain states in the United States have legalized cannabis, the cartels have had to expand their “drug-line” of products. Unfortunately, the effects of the legalization of recreational and medical cannabis on the cartels and organized crime groups are yet to be understood and even established. Much like how any system legalizes, there will be some time before citizens will see products become available as the country solidifies its legal cannabis programs. Mexico still has a lot of work ahead of them before recreational and medical cannabis legalization takes effect nation-wide. Rules must be established and policies must be developed appropriately before citizens can enjoy the federally legal cannabis market as well as before the country can allow companies to invest and open up cannabis operations in Mexico. 

Unfortunately, the deadlines associated with Mexico’s plans to federally legalize cannabis by the end of 2020 have hit many obstacles and delays due to the pandemic or other factors. A last-minute petition was accepted by the Supreme Court to delay the vote until April 2021 instead of meeting the 2020 deadline. The delay in plans is certainly disappointing but it is not surprising to find that the pandemic is to blame. Mexico’s plans to legalize cannabis for medical and recreational use will move ahead, albeit a bit delayed. 

What Does This Mean for the US?

The United States has basically lost out on any opportunity to control financial markets and dollar funneling into cannabis industries due to the laissez-faire attitude surrounding cannabis in the Trump Administration. While this may simply seem like an opportunity missed, there’s an underlying impression that the problem is much larger in terms of the global cannabis economy.

With President Biden as the new president, it’s uncertain what the reception will be to Mexico’s nationwide cannabis legalization. However, one thing is for sure, being “sandwiched” between two countries that support federal legalization for both medicinal use and recreational use, will be putting the United States in some questionable spotlight. For a superpower nation who has been on the frontline of many historical movements, the United States is certainly falling way behind and being out-shown by its neighbors on either side. 

Post Your Comments

Joyce Leggs says:

January 8, 2021 at 5:47 pm

The U.S needs to get with the program