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History Made: Mexico’s Supreme Court Strikes Down Cannabis Prohibition

Published on October 31, 2018 · Last updated July 28, 2020

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s Supreme Court issued two more rulings Wednesday ordering that complainants in individual cases be allowed to use marijuana for recreational purposes, establishing a precedent that a blanket prohibition on pot is unconstitutional.

'The effects provoked by marijuana do not justify an absolute prohibition of its consumption,' the court ruled.

The court found that adults have a fundamental right to personal development which lets them decide their recreational activities without interference from the state.

“That right is not absolute, and the consumption of certain substances may be regulated, but the effects provoked by marijuana do not justify an absolute prohibition of its consumption,” the ruling said.

Sets a National Precedent

The high court ordered the Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risk to authorize the complainants to consume marijuana, though not to commercialize it or use other drugs.

The two decisions followed three similar ones between 2015 and 2017, and under Mexican law five decisions on a related issue set a standard that applies more broadly.

“With the existence of five precedents in the same vein on the subject, the judgment will be mandatory for all courts in the country,” the high tribunal concluded.

It’s Like Decrim, Not Full Legalization

The rulings technically do not legalize recreational use, however. They establish that courts must allow it, but it is still up to each individual to press his or her case in the judicial system.

Mexico saw something similar happen in recent years with five Supreme Court rulings establishing a broader precedent allowing same-sex couples to wed, though same-sex marriage has yet to become the law of the land nationwide.

Mexico United Against Crime, a group that opposes prohibitionist drug policies, said Wednesday’s rulings “open the door to regulation of cannabis” and confirm that “Mexico must move toward the regulation of drugs to improve conditions of justice and peace in the country.”

Next: Formal Legalization in Congress

Formal legalization would be up to Congress, and the group urged lawmakers to act.

“The Supreme Court has done its job. … The responsibility for issuing the corresponding regulation falls on congress,” the group’s director general, Lisa Sanchez, said in a statement.

Mexico has long been the source of marijuana smuggled into the United States. The rulings from Mexico’s Supreme Court come after many U.S. states have legalized pot in recent years for medicinal purposes, recreational use or both.

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