"We're taking away this beautiful plant from criminals and putting in the hands of retailers and farmers," said former Mexican President Vicente Fox.
Mexico is inching closer to becoming the world's largest legal cannabis market as lawmakers prepare to debate a proposal to legalize recreational marijuana.
The Chamber of Deputies, Congress' lower house similar to the U.S. House of Representatives, will take up the issue early next week, Martha Tagle Martínez, a member of the chamber's health committee, said in a series of tweets.
The Senate approved the legalization of medical marijuana almost four months ago, and two months later, the Health Ministry published rules to regulate the use of medicinal cannabis.
While the road to full legalization appears to have accelerated, especially compared to the U.S.'s debate over the so-called war on drugs, Mexico's path has not necessarily been driven by public or political demand. Instead, Mexico's Supreme Court issued a series of five rulings declaring the ban on the consumption of cannabis unconstitutional.
Under Mexican law, the number of decisions needed to set a precedent is five.
"Mexico went down the legalization path because of a quirk in the way their judicial system works," said Andrew Rudman, director of the Mexico Institute at the Wilson Center, a nonpartisan research organization.
With the clock ticking for Mexico to finalize both its medical and recreational cannabis programs, the U.S. could be left in an awkward position if its neighbors to the north and the south each have legal frameworks in place. Canada legalized recreational cannabis in 2018; marijuana remains a Schedule 1 drug in the U.S.