Mexico’s Supreme Court first ruled that marijuana prohibition was unconstitutional in 2015. That decision became binding nationwide three years later, when the court gave the Mexican Congress 90 days to pass a bill. of legalization. Lawmakers missed that deadline and several others, and last week the court lost patience. order the federal government to issue permits that will allow cannabis users to possess and grow marijuana at home.
Similar permits have been available since 2015, but until now they were limited to marijuana users who had filed lawsuits and obtained injunctions. Commercial cultivation and distribution remain illegal.
“There will be no permits to plant outdoors,” said Mexican drug policy activist Lisa Sánchez. He said Vice. “There will be no participation of companies. Marijuana is not going to be sold at retail … You cannot consume marijuana in public space. And crimes against health, crimes related to drugs, these remain intact. Thus, the marijuana trafficking will continue to be a crime in Mexico, marijuana trafficking will continue to be a crime in Mexico, [and] the eradication of illicit crops will continue to be an activity of the Mexican government. “
Mexico legalized the limited medical use of marijuana in 2017. Last year, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador confidently predicted that the legislature would pass a framework to license and regulate recreational marijuana providers in early 2021. But lawmakers They had yet to agree on the details when the last court-imposed deadline came and went on April 30, and this time they did not request an extension.
Under a bill the Mexican Senate passed last November, adults 18 and older could buy marijuana at state-authorized retailers, own up to 28 grams (about one ounce), and grow up to six plants for personal use. The Chamber of Deputies did not act on the bill before the December 15 deadline, which the Supreme Court later extended once again. In March, the lower house passed a different bill that has since been stalled in the Senate.
López Obrador said he would respect the Supreme Court ruling, but suggested that corrective legislation or a public referendum might be appropriate, depending on how cannabis permits work. “Of course we are going to respect what the court has decided, and we are going to evaluate it,” he said. saying at a press conference last week. “We are going to see what effects it has. If we see … that it is not working to address the serious problem of drug addiction, that it is not working to stop the violence, then we will act.” That’s an odd way to frame the issue, as court-ordered home cultivation and possession permits don’t address the black market, except to the extent that homegrown marijuana reduces demand for illegally produced marijuana.
If lawmakers ever get down to business, Mexico will be by far the most populous country to legalize recreational marijuana nationally, joining Canada and Uruguay on the short list of governments that have taken that step. Mexican legalization would create a contiguous weed-friendly zone stretching 4,800 miles from Mexico’s border with Guatemala to Cape Columbia on Ellesmere Island in Nunavut. That zone includes all of the US states on the Pacific coast.
Mexico could be the third country to legalize marijuana, or possibly the fourth, if Israeli lawmakers comply with a legalization plan that was endorsed last fall by the two main parties that controlled the government at the time. The new ruling coalition, a hodgepodge of parties from the right and left, is also officially in favor of legalization.
In the US, 18 states, representing 44 percent of the national population, now allow recreational use of marijuana, but federal prohibition remains in effect. Given that President Joe Biden wants to keep it that way and the congressional Democrats who favor legalization are not making a serious effort to attract Republican support, the conflict between federal and state marijuana laws is unlikely to be resolved anytime soon.