Halloween 2018 marked the day that Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that an absolute ban on recreational cannabis use was unconstitutional.
The move was expected by many as President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador had hinted at legalizing cannabis. Earlier this month, members of his cabinet paid a visit to Canada where they discussed legalization with Canadian officials.
In Wednesday’s Day of the Dead announcement in favor of two legal challenges filed against prohibition of recreational marijuana use, Mexico’s top court crossed the threshold needed to create jurisprudence: five similar rulings on the matter, which creates a precedent that other Mexican courts, will have to follow.
“This is a historic day,” said Fernando Belaunzaran, an advocate of drug reform and member of the opposition Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD).
The Supreme Court’s first ruling, in November 2015, allowed a group of people to grow marijuana for personal use.
In a statement, the court said the ruling did not create an absolute right to use marijuana and that consumption of certain substances could still be subject to regulation.
“But the effects caused by marijuana do not justify an absolute prohibition on its consumption,” noted the ruling.
The court ordered the country’s federal health regulator to authorize people seeking the right to use marijuana to do so personally, “albeit without allowing them to market it, or use other narcotics or psychotropic drugs.”
Congress would now have to act to regulate the use of marijuana in Mexico, Belaunzaran said.
Officials in the incoming government of President-elect Lopez Obrador had indicated they would take steps to legalize cannabis quickly as part of a broader strategy to fight poverty and crime, said the newly appointed foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, when he visited Canada in October, one week after legalization.
"We think it is a very interesting option in the short term for Mexico," Ebrard said during his visit to Montreal, Canada, reported El Pais.
It makes no sense "to have a law banning cannabis possession or consumption," Ebrard said.
Mexico spends considerable resources to fight drug trafficking, Ebrard noted, and "much suffering is caused to the population."