Mexico's Congress approves landmark cannabis bill

Mexico became one step closer to legalising marijuana.

The country’s lower house of Congress approved a bill on Wednesday that would decriminalize cannabis for recreational, medical and scientific uses.

The bill, backed by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, was approved by 316-127 votes.

It now goes to the Senate where, if passed, would create one of the world’s largest markets for the plant and be a major shift for a country bedeviled by cartel violence.

The law would open five types of marijuana licenses: cultivation, transformation, sale, research and export or import of the plant.

People 18 years and older, and with a permit, would be able to grow, carry or consume marijuana and its derivatives.

Obrador's ruling Morena party has argued that decriminalizing cannabis could help combat Mexico's powerful drug cartels.

Some lawmakers want the law to go further.

Ana Lucia Rojas is an independent: ''This law does not protect the human rights of those who have been most affected by the war against drug trafficking. It does not go towards the construction of peace and does not go in the sense of compensating the victims of the armed forces."

Uruguay became the first country in the world to legalize the plant’s production and sale in 2013.

Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Peru allow its medical use, while Canada and several U.S. states have regulated recreational use.