Mexico’s Supreme Court Votes to End Cannabis Prohibition

After lawmakers in Mexico failed to enact a law to end cannabis prohibition, the Supreme Court rose to the challenge. 

The Court voted on Monday to allow the adult use of cannabis, declaring its prohibition to be unconstitutional.

“Today is a historic day for freedom. After a long way, this Supreme Court strengthens the right to the free development of the personality for the recreational use of marijuana,” said the president of the Supreme Court, Arturo Zaldivar, during Monday’s vote. 

Eight ministers voted in favor of overturning the prohibition, three voted against. 

The decision does not totally cannabis, but it allows Mexico’s residents to request permission to consume it legally at home with certain restrictions. 

“From now on, and while Congress legislates on the matter, the Ministry of Health must issue these permits only to adults and for the specified purposes,” said Minister Norma Lucía Piña during the debate on the issue. 

The Ministry of Health must now decide the details of permits for personal consumption. The Supreme Court’s decision also leaves the door open for Congress to pass legislation to regulate what could be the world’s largest legal cannabis market.

The decision comes three years after the Supreme Court declared that the country’s ban on the possession and cultivation of cannabis was unconstitutional and ordered lawmakers to approve a legalization bill before October 2019. 

But after the bill shifted back and forth between the two chambers of Congress, and the Supreme Court granted several deadline extensions, lawmakers failed to agree on the details.

The Senate first approved a bill in November 2020 to legalize the production and sale of cannabis for personal use. The country’s lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, passed the bill with amendments in March 2021, then sent it back to the Senate. 

The bill, which would’ve allowed adults 18 and older to possess up to 28 grams and grow up to six cannabis plants at home for personal use, was expected to pass through the Senate, but several senators objected to the amendments. For example, the revised bill would have given an existing agency, the National Commission Against Addictions, authority to oversee the licensing and implementation of the cannabis program instead of establishing a new independent regulatory body. Ultimately, as Cannabis Wire recently reported, lawmakers missed the final deadline of April 30 this year, prompting action by the Supreme Court.  

“The legislature is fully aware that the absolute prohibition of the recreational use of marijuana violates human rights, but since October 2019, when it was granted its first [deadline] extension, has not been able to resolve the unconstitutionality of the law,” Minister Ana Margarita Ríos Farjat said during the virtual vote held Monday morning. “This plenary is not defining a drug policy but reacting to a legislative inactivity to regulate the aspects of recreational marijuana consumption,” she added.

Although the medicinal use of cannabis is legal in the Latin American country, as Cannabis Wire has reported, its use for other purposes has yet to be regulated. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has voiced support for legislation to legalize , although he has been more lukewarm toward the legalization of cannabis for adult use.

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