Here’s why cannabis still isn’t legal in Mexico

Here’s why cannabis still isn’t legal in Mexico
Image by Sergei Tokmakov, Esq. https://Terms.Law from Pixabay


History of marijuana legalization in Mexico

The delayed full legalization

What’s next for the cannabis industry in Mexico?

Be responsible

Is cannabis legal in Mexico in 2023? There’s no simple answer, as the lawfulness of marijuana in the nation remains unsettled.

While there have been indications of Mexico fully legalizing the plant, it hasn’t happened yet. What are the reasons for this delay when the country has the potential to become one of the world’s largest markets for weed?

It’s important to understand the region’s regulations before visiting with high-quality or marijuana buds.

Read on for an in-depth review of why authorities haven’t entirely outlawed cannabis in Mexico.

History of marijuana legalization in Mexico

Laws banned marijuana for recreational and medical use in Mexico in 1920. This narrative changed on August 20, 2009, when the government adopted legislation allowing the possession of up to five grams of weed.

The situation further eased up in 2017 when the plant became lawful for medical use. New regulations allowed consumption of cannabis with a THC content of less than 1%.

Mexico’s most recent change in law came in 2021, when the government permitted the use of recreational weed.

Is cannabis legal in Mexico in 2023? Yes, and no. The plant is lawful in the country, but there’s a lack of a specific legal framework on acquiring a prescription and purchasing weed.

Many individuals are hopeful 2023 will be the year Mexico finally adopts full legalization laws.

Legalization of medical marijuana

The Mexican constitution permitted the use of medical cannabis in the country in June 2017. Then president Enrique Peña Nieto signed the use of marijuana into law, provided it has less than 1% THC.

The bill passed through the senate and lower house of congress with overwhelming support.

It was a significant move for the health sector, but challenges remain in implementing this law to serve patients. No legal framework exists to identify whether a person possesses weed for recreational or medicinal use.

Hemp is legal in Mexico since people use it medicinally. These crops must have a THC content of 0.3%, lower than the 1% threshold for marijuana.

Legalization of recreational marijuana

In June 2021, lawmakers in Mexico passed the Cannabis Regulation Act to allow the recreational use of marijuana.

The supreme court ruled the absolute ban on recreational marijuana was unconstitutional. It set the pace for the legislators to deliberate on its legalization.

This new regulation covered the following aspects:

  • Adults can carry up to 28 grams of weed, which they may smoke.
  • They’re also allowed to grow up to six plants at home.
  • The government will provide grow licenses for small to large-scale cannabis operations. The bill also states the priority individuals for the permits are small farmers, indigenous people, and vulnerable groups.

The delayed full legalization

Growing, owning, and possessing marijuana may not be a criminal act in Mexico anymore, but the plant isn’t fully lawful. The country also deals with illegal cannabis markets, like the US and Canada, despite its legal status.

Some lawmakers want to refine the previously passed medical and recreational pot use bills. They claim the law needs to be clearer on some issues to protect growers and consumers and to benefit the nation’s economy.

Other factors that contribute to delaying the Mexico weed legalization process include:


The polls held in July 2018 affected the momentum of the weed movement and campaigns in Mexico.

Citizens chose new leaders in senate and congress, and activists had to rally them over again to change the law to legalize pot.

It wasn’t until three years into the new regime that leaders passed a bill to legalize recreational marijuana.

Disagreements among stakeholders

The stakeholders in the marijuana market include the government, the central regulator, and the Mexican people.

According to a recent poll by El Financiero, 58% of citizens don’t support the Mexico marijuana law. This opposition could result from decades of drug-related violence that paint weed in a negative picture.

Others claim the people behind the legalization efforts wish to derive maximum financial benefits by controlling the cannabis industry.


When the supreme court ruled that recreational cannabis was legal, the bill required congress to define a legal marijuana market.

Almost two years later, leaders haven’t drafted laws to establish it. This delay makes it impossible to sell weed in Mexico in 2023 and beyond while following regulations.

Another requirement was for the government to issue cards that would legally permit the possession and use of weed. The system is yet to be operational, as lawmakers differ on the details of the licenses.

What’s next for the cannabis industry in Mexico?

The full legalization of pot could make the country a world leader in selling weed. Mexico’s marijuana market has immense potential and could bring in investors, further boosting the region’s income.

Not everyone shares this optimism, as many still don’t support the bill. They claim its legalization will put the country’s efforts into fighting the drug war many steps behind.

Some think legalizing the plant could push out small-scale farmers in favor of large corporations. Such companies could control the entire supply chain and dictate market prices.

Be responsible

Should you visit Mexico, use weed responsibly. Don’t cross the border with cannabis, and only smoke in establishments that tolerate the plant’s use. Searches by police are common, so don’t feel shocked if you’re checked upon entry to bars or on the street.

Cooperation and having a positive attitude will ensure you enjoy a wonderful vacation in this beautiful country.