The green tide of sanctioned cannabis consumption has spread throughout the rest of North America as its southernmost country takes one big step to legalizing marijuana. Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that the current absolute ban on recreational marijuana use to be unconstitutional, leaving regional lawmakers to regulate how the substance is consumed.
According to Reuters, Mexico’s top court announced it had ruled in favor of two legal cases filed against the prohibition of cannabis consumption, ruling 4-1 in favor of granting adults the right to use marijuana. Additionally, this particular decision crosses a legal threshold (five similar rulings on related cases) in order to create jurisprudence – forcing lesser courts into compliance.
In the official statement, the judges said the ruling did not create an absolute right to use cannabis, still arguing that certain substances and derivatives should be subject to government regulation. While giving the Mexico’s federal health regulator COFEPRIS the ability to let citizens use marijuana personally, it still is “without allowing them to market it, or use other narcotics or psychotropic drugs,” said the statement.
This announcement comes in line with statements made by officials in the incoming administration, which have expressed a desire to legalize marijuana quickly in a broader strategy to fight organized crime and poverty.
“The rulings create jurisprudence but they do not in themselves amount to changes in legislation,” said Mexican Drug Policy expert Froylán Enciso, bringing up the point that actual legislation still needs to be implemented before this could be considered a full-blown legalization, as is the case in Canada. “When Congress declares marijuana prohibition unconstitutional in Mexico, the federal government of the United States will be the only prohibitionist jurisdiction left in North America. Canada now has legal marijuana. More than 30 states in the U.S. have some form of marijuana legalization. And now with Mexico legalizing consumption and production, the only drug warriors remaining in North America are President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.”
Policy experts that support legalization have argued that this will stop arrests over a relatively harmless drug. They also propose that legalization will mitigate the billions of dollars that flow from the black market in the form of marijuana to the existing drug cartels in the nation, especially since much of that money goes to fund their violent operations across the country.
Opponents, however, argue that an improperly implemented legalization would enable a massive marijuana industry that could market the plant irresponsibly, citing the countries past experiences with tobacco and alcohol industries which have built much of their success on such practices.
Regardless, the Mexican Congress now has 90 days to re-legislate the nations existing drug laws. It’s unclear as to what kind of approach they will adopt, with many speculating that they could set up a system taxing commercial sales, while other alternatives include making marijuana possession and use legal but not actually selling cannabis (similar to the regulatory situation in the District of Columbia and Vermont). Either way, it’s a big win for cannabis proponents not just in Mexico but worldwide and bodes well for future cannabis industries all across the world.