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Senators argue that poor farmers can grow marijuana in Mexico

The Mexican Senate will discuss in the coming days a law to regulate the use of marijuana in the country that suggests poor farmers can grow, transform, market, import and export the plant or its derivatives, as part of a government strategy to combat organized crime.

The initiative, included in a draft that could still be modified in discussions in Congress, seeks to compensate for the damage caused by the current ban, a milestone in a country ravaged by violence linked to drug cartels.

“We want the benefits of planting also to remain in the countryside, in rural people,” said Senator Jos√© Narro, president of the Committee on Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, and Rural Development.

In Mexico, it is common for organized crime to kidnap poor peasants to force them to grow marijuana or poppy for heroin-making, mainly between April and November due to labor shortages.

About 300,000 people are engaged in illicit crops every year. Many of them come from indigenous communities in southeastern states of the country such as Oaxaca and Guerrero. Despite working against their will, they receive salaries up to nine times higher than in licit crops, according to private studies.

The norm that is being discussed in the Senate, and that would be debated in the plenary next week, also includes the creation of the Mexican Cannabis Institute, through which the State will regulate and control the use of the plant, by January 2021.

The entity will issue four types of licenses to control some of the acts related to the cultivation, transformation, sale, and export or import of marijuana and its derivatives.

The law stipulates that only persons over 18 years of age may cultivate, carry and consume marijuana and its derivatives, but with permission from the Institute. In addition, 28 grams -like in California- of personal consumption weight will be allowed.

Companies seeking to make scientific and research use of the plant must have a maximum of 20% of foreign capital, stipulates the draft standard.

In 2018, Canada became the first industrialized country to legalize recreational marijuana. Several US states bordering Mexico allow the use of cannabis and its derivatives.

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