In preparation to weigh the content of the measures introduced by the Citizen’s Movement, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA), which has a majority in both houses of Congress, the upper chamber’s Gilberto Bosques Center for International Studies recently issued a report that examines regulatory models across the globe.
Drawing on recommendations from the Global Commission on Drug Policy, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, the Transform Drug Policy Foundation, Health Canada’s Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation and the Drug Policy Alliance, the report asks readers to contemplate a hodgepodge of frameworks, from the state monopoly of alcohol in Sweden to the nonprofit cultivation of cannabis for personal consumption in Vermont.
It also asks them to consider how supply and demand will be resolved. (Will it be through specialized pharmacies, as is done in Uruguay? Through the granting of retail licenses, like in Canada? Or through for-profit licensed establishments, like cannabis clubs?) In that vein, the report posits limiting the size of the companies participating in the market, so as “to prevent regulatory capture and corporate lobbying.”
In light of these considerations, the report quotes Beau Kilmer, who authored the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction study and wrote: “nobody knows which is the best way to legalize and regulate the supply of cannabis” and underscored that “while some insights can be drawn from the extensive research on alcohol and tobacco regulation, cannabis is a unique substance that can be consumed in an increasing number of forms.”
In addition to supply, the report also discusses public health and the establishment of prices and taxes. Given ample evidence that cannabis consumption can adversely affect the development of the adolescent brain, says the report, Mexico’s greatest regulatory challenge will be preventing youth access. Moreover, because it “is easier to consume higher THC levels through edible products,” the report also suggests limiting their sale.
Additionally, the report acknowledges that taxes in the United States have generally been applied in relation to a product’s price. However, the Canadian Task Force recommends linking taxes to potency, in order to “discourage the purchase of highly potent products.”
The Canadian experience, the report adds, “suggests that regulation should be based on evidence,” subject to “constant monitoring and evaluation,” and be flexible enough to ensure optimal functioning. In the end, the framework should aim to dissuade excessive cannabis consumption and undermine the illicit market.
The report, it should be noted, also places a premium on prioritizing the interests of people and communities engaged in “illicit non-violent activities as a result of poverty, marginalization or lack of opportunities,” as well those who have been most affected by “current punitive drug enforcement efforts.”
- Cannabis is rich territory for serious journalism. Legalization raises urgent questions about regulation and law, technology and taxation, science and business, criminal justice and individual liberties. It stands at the intersection of a booming billion-dollar industry and promising advances in medicine, all while remaining federally illegal.
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