Mexico’s Supreme Court decriminalizes recreational marijuana use after Senate failed to act


The Supreme Court of Mexico ( SCJN ) decriminalized the recreational use of marijuana in Mexico on Monday in a historic step for human rights in Mexico, according to its presiding minister, Arturo Zaldívar, and after a long wait due to the failure to regulate it in Congress.

The Plenary of the highest Court of the country voted 8-3 in favor of the General Declaration of Unconstitutionality (DGI) of the sections in Mexican law that prohibit the recreational use of cannabis, sometimes also called “adult consumption”.

“Today is a historic day for freedoms. After a long journey, this Supreme Court reaffirms the right to free development of the personality for the recreational use of marijuana ”, expressed after the vote, which he himself promoted, the minister-president of the SCJN Arturo Zaldívar.

The Congress had three extensions (four different stages from the resolution of the highest court of the country) to reform existing legislation and give way to the freedom of consumption but could not do so in recent years despite the fact that since 2018 both are chambers controlled by Morena, López Obrador’s party.

Judge Norma Lucía Piña clarified that “in no case is it authorized to import, trade or sell” marijuana, which will not create a recreational cannabis market in Mexico for now.

As it stands, Mexico has decriminalized the recreational use of marijuana but will still prosecute anyone who sells the decriminalized drug to individuals who are permitted its use.

In addition, she stressed that consumption may not affect third parties or take place in public spaces or in front of minors.

Don’t smoke up yet! These guidelines will be in effect from the date the declaration of unconstitutionality is published in the Official Gazette of the Federation and as long as Congress does not pass legislation.

Piña considered that this declaration “removes the legal obstacle for the Ministry of Health to authorize activities related to the self-consumption of cannabis and THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) for recreational purposes while respecting the free development of the personality.”

After several injunctions from marijuana users, the Supreme Court considered recreational use unconstitutional for violating “the free development of the personality” and in 2019 ordered Congress to regulate recreational use.

A first version of the text was approved by the Senate on November 19 of last year, but on March 10 it was modified by the Chamber of Deputies and returned to the Senate, which allowed the final deadline of April 30 to pass without ratifying it.

The ruling stuck in Congress sought to make Mexico the third country in America to legalize recreational marijuana at the national level, after Uruguay and Canada.

It allowed carrying up to 28 grams of cannabis and provided for a licensing system to grow up to eight plants at home, found smokers associations, as well as produce and sell marijuana and industrial hemp.

However, consumer associations criticized that the text continued to criminalize consumption by establishing fines for those who carry between 28 and 200 grams and jail sentences for those who exceed 200 grams.

Although the magistrates’ session was telematic, members of the Mexican Cannabis Movement stood in front of the Supreme Court to demand the end of the ban after a year and a half camped out before the Senate.


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