Yesterday, our neighbor to the south was able to accomplish a feat that the United States has failed to do. Mexico legalizes marijuana use after two Supreme Court rulings determine cannabis prohibition is unconstitutional. The two cases in front of the Mexican Supreme Court challenged the federal health and penal laws.
Both cases invoked amparo, which is a form of constitutional protection from prosecution. The first plaintiff was from a farmer that wanted to cultivate, harvest, process, and transport marijuana. The second plaintiff was fighting for the right consume cannabis for recreational use.
Drug policy researcher at Mexico's social sciences institute, Froylán Enciso, noted that "The rulings pave the way for adults to use marijuana in any way they see fit. We aren't just talking about recreational use. The court has found that marijuana can be used for rituals, for recreational use, for medical use, at work, for scientific investigations. For any adult use and that it cannot be penalized.”
These rulings will officially decriminalize marijuana and in effect legalize adult-use cannabis nationwide, however these rulings were not made overnight. Drug activists have been working for years strategizing on specific litigation cases since the federal law in Mexico requires five consecutive rulings on the same matter before a law can be deemed unconstitutional.
While the Supreme Court rulings are a giant milestone in legalizing recreational cannabis sales, there is still work to be done. The Mexican Supreme Court now has 90 days to notify the Mexican Congress of their decision. Congress will then have to amend the laws that were found to be unconstitutional or face a wave of court cases from those who have been previously prosecuted for cannabis.
Enciso went on to say, "The rulings create jurisprudence but they do not in themselves amount to changes in legislation. Even so they are very important not just for Mexico but for the United States."
Once the Mexican Congress makes these changes, Mexico will be the third country to legalize adult-use marijuana on the federal level after Canada legalized earlier this year. This will be a huge blow to the Mexican drug cartels and put the current U.S. administration in a very awkward position.
In his final remarks, Enciso pointed out that, "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."