Mexico Gives Recreational Cannabis The Green Light
Just this Wednesday, the Supreme Court of Mexico overturned prohibition of cannabis by issuing two separate rulings.
Mexican law currently states that five decisions set a binding precedent throughout the country. “This 5th judgment means that, while the cannabis prohibition law nominally remains in place for now (and arrests remain possible), all judges nationally are now bound by the Supreme Court judgment as a defense in the (now much less likely) scenario of prosecutions being brought,” says Transform Drug Policy Foundation, a research firm that helped in the efforts to overturn prohibition. “The legalization of cannabis for adult personal use, possession, private cultivation and sharing is therefore currently de facto (in practical effect), rather than de jure (formalized in law/legislation).” The two new judgments follow previous rulings as Mexican law dictates that when the Supreme Court rules the same decision five times on the same subject, it automatically creates a binding precedent for all the country’s judges. For the first case, a plaintiff wanted to cultivate his own cannabis and applied for an “amparo”, a type of constitutional protection which would prevent him from getting prosecuted, so that he could legally grow, harvest, possess, and transport cannabis. For the second case, a plaintiff applied for an amparo as well, for the purpose of consuming cannabis for recreational purposes. Both plaintiffs wanted to declare Mexico’s federal laws surrounding cannabis use for recreational purposes unconstitutional.
Transform’s news release also says that the court disclosed, “the fundamental right to the free development of the personality allows the persons of legal age to decide – without any interference – what kind of recreational activities they wish to carry out and protect all the actions necessary to materialize that choice.” The right to “free development of the personality” refers to a constitutional doctrine incorporating personal autonomy. This term can also be found in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, because it’s one that we are all entitled to.
“Now, it was also clarified that this right is not absolute and that the consumption of a certain substance could be regulated, but the effects caused by marijuana do not justify an absolute prohibition on its consumption,” reads the press release.
The decision follows the news that the succeeding presidential administration has been deliberating legalizing cannabis. Cabinet members of President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador were discussing this matter with the Canadian government on a trip there earlier this month, and Canada just legalized the drug on October 17.
But you can’t go to Mexico and legally buy cannabis, just yet.
Mexican Congress is now given 90 days to update the current drug laws to abide by the rulings, “at which point the reform will assume de jure status,” says Transform. However, how Congress will react to the ruling remains up in smoke; there’s the possibility that they may create a new system regulating commercial sales and taxation, but then they may also legalize cannabis possession and consumption except for sales – a system similar to what the District of Columbia and Vermont have adopted.
Should everything go as planned, Mexico would then become the 3rd nation in the world to legalize cannabis recreationally, following Uruguay and Canada.
Legalization supporters argue that when prohibition is lifted, it reduces societal arms. It leads to a drop in cannabis-related arrests as well as the racial disparities that are hurting communities of color in the United States, while putting a choke-hold on the billions of dollars that go into the pockets of drug cartels who use the profits to fund violent crimes all over the world. The benefits of legalization clearly outweigh any potential risks, such as an increase in cannabis consumption. On the other hand, opponents of legalization believe that legalization may contribute to irresponsible cannabis consumption.
Regardless of that, two steps forward for Mexico this week, and that’s a huge victory on its own.
Tourists wanting to partake of cannabis in Mexico shouldn’t try just yet, because until the changes have been formalized, the laws are still largely anti-cannabis. Mexican citizens, if they have the resources and the time, may be able to battle cannabis-related crime charges, but this doesn’t apply even if you’re a citizen of Canada or the US.