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In Mexico, where powerful cartels are rife, the Supreme Court on Monday decriminalized the use of cannabis for recreational purposes. Congress has yet to legislate on the issue.
The Supreme Court of Mexico, where powerful drug cartels operate, officially decriminalized the use of marijuana for adults on Monday (June 28). Eight of the eleven members of this body thus declared unconstitutional a series of articles of the Mexican law on health which prohibited the consumption of marijuana.
“Today is a historic day for freedoms,” commented the President of the Court, Arturo Zaldívar, after the vote.
The Supreme Court’s decision comes after the Mexican Congress failed to pass a law on the issue before the April 30 deadline set by the Supreme Court.
The declaration approved by the Supreme Court on Monday means that those who now want to use marijuana for recreational purposes can apply for authorization from the Federal Commission for the Protection against Health Risks (Cofepris) and the latter cannot refuse it.
“In the past, Cofepris refused these authorizations,” Adriana Muro, director of the human rights organization Elementa, told AFP. “From now on, the authorization must be granted automatically,” she added.
While civil organizations and scholars applaud the Supreme Court’s ruling, they caution that Congress has yet to legislate on the issue.
“The decision (of the Supreme Court) does not affect the framework of criminal justice and leaves a legal vacuum with regard to the consumption, cultivation and distribution of cannabis,” said the NGO Mexico United Against Crime on Twitter.
For his part, Jorge Hernandez Tinajero, an activist for the regulation of cannabis in Mexico since the 1990s, criticizes lawmakers who have not been able to “regulate reality” such as possession and marketing of marijuana.
The decision by the country’s highest legal body, however, was a milestone for Mexico, which has a population of 126 million and has been plunged into a spiral of violence since 2006, when the then federal government launched a controversial anti-drug military operation. Since then, the country has recorded more than 300,000 murders.
Since 2015, the Supreme Court has handed down a series of rulings that have found banning the recreational use of marijuana by adults illegal. As of January 12, the government had already regulated the production, handling and marketing of medical marijuana.
If passed by the Mexican Congress, the legalization of cannabis will make Mexico the third country to legalize cannabis nationally for recreational use, after Uruguay and Canada.
It is also opening up a high-risk front with the drug cartels which are the powerful masters of this sector of activity. In 2020, Mexican authorities seized 244 tonnes of marijuana.
The latest National Drug Survey (2016) in Mexico found that 7.3 million Mexicans between the ages of 12 and 65 had used marijuana multiple times and that it was the favorite drug of 1.82 million. of Mexicans.