Former Mexican President Vicente Fox said on Friday he expected Congress to pass its new law to legalize cannabis next week, a move that would effectively create one of the world’s largest weed markets.
The bill, backed by the administration of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, would mark a major shift in a country bedeviled for years by violence between feuding drug cartels.
Fox, a director at Colombian-Canadian Khiron Life Sciences (KHRN.V) which focuses on cannabis for medical use, has been a long-standing advocate for the decriminalization of marijuana in Mexico.
“We’re receiving direct information from the lawmakers,” he told Reuters. “It’s information that is quite trustworthy and solid, and next week this should be approved.”
A source in the lower house told Reuters the bill would be discussed on Monday. It was due to be approved in December but was delayed.
The bill, which easily passed the Senate in a vote in November, would create a huge new legal market for marijuana which companies like Khiron Life Sciences are eager to tap.
Canada’s Canopy Growth (WEED.TO) and The Green Organic Dutchman (TGOD.TO) as well as Medical Marijuana (MJNA.PK) from California are among other firms eyeing Mexico.
Grand View Research said in a recent study the global legal market for the plant could be worth $73.6 billion by 2027.
Lopez Obrador has argued that decriminalizing cannabis and other narcotics could help combat Mexico’s powerful drug cartels.
Fox said he wants to create a marijuana greenhouse and a laboratory where the plant will be studied at his Fox Center in Mexico.
“I’m convinced legalization of marijuana is the first step towards the legalization of all prohibited products,” he said.