The Mexican Supreme Court has decriminalized the recreational use of cannabis for adults. After a bill to legalize marijuana use failed to pass in the country’s congress, the supreme court of the North American nation ruled in favour of legalisation.
Representatives of NGOs that support legalization of marijuana are however cautious about this decision. Until Congress opens the legalization initiative, things won’t change.
Arturo Zaldivar, Court President, described Monday as an historic day for human rights. Eight of the 11 judges voted for decriminalization.
According to El Pais, the Spanish newspaper, Monday’s court decision is a general declaration that certain laws relating to the sale, use and procurement of marijuana are unconstitutional.
The newspaper stated that these areas were already unconstitutional and Congress was required to remove or amend them.
According to AFP news agency, Congress was given time by the Supreme Court until April 31st to pass the law, but it was not successful.
Although the House of Commons approved it in March, the Senate still needs to approve the measure. A majority of senators voted in favor of the bill, but the Senate voted against it.
El Pais claims that the general declaration against unconstitutionality was invoked in Mexico only once.
According to Spanish newspapers, the court’s decision basically calls for the country’s Ministry of Health to allow adult recreational use of marijuana. The federal authorities must provide guidance regarding the proper sourcing and use of marijuana in public places.
New law does not decriminalize production or distribution
However, people who are campaigning for legitimacy believe that the Supreme Court’s decision left cannabis users grappling with a variety of uncertainties.
Mexico Unido Contra la Delincuencia, Mexico United Against Delinquincy, or just MUCD, explains that the decision doesn’t directly decriminalize any activities necessary for successful trade of the substance. This includes and production, transportation, selling and even simply possession of marijuana.
The organization said the decision would leave a “legal vacuum for use, breeding and distribution”. In order to resolve the matter, they urge Congress to pass the necessary legislation.
Jorge Hernandez Tinajero is a member the Asociacion Mexicana de Estudios Sobre Cannabis and an activist for legalization. He was skeptical about the court’s announcement.
He said that “they dare not go further” and stressed that marijuana users still face legal barriers when it comes to possession.
The decision will have one consequence: recreational marijuana users will now be able to get a license from Cofepris, the Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risk. Adriana Muro from Elementa, the director of human rights organisation, told AFP. Muro claims that Cofepris refused these permits in the past.
He added that permission must be granted automatically.
Only a handful of countries have legalized recreational use
In June 2017, Mexico decriminalized cannabis use; legislation other countries have taken.
Mexico will join only a few other countries that have legalized recreational marijuana use, if the bill passes Congress. Only a handful of countries, and regions have legalised cannabis for recreational use. Mexico joins Uruguay, Canada, South Africa and Gerogia. However, more will surely follow in the coming years, as the global attitude towards the substance is undergoing a dramtic shift.
Experts believe that Mexico with its population of 126 millions could be a billion-dollar cannabis market.
Part of the legalization effort is to reduce drug-related violence. The gang crime that kills thousands in Mexico each year, is heavily funded by the illegal drug trade. Cannabis makes up a large portion of cartel income. Since 2006, when the government of Mexico sent an army to combat drug cartels, more than 300,000 people have been killed in the country’s efforts to fight cartels.
Mexican authorities seized 244 tons of marijuana last year alone. The street value of this of cannabis exceeds 2 billion dollars in the US.