Smoking pot should be considered a fundamental human right, according to a historic ruling passed on Wednesday by Mexico’s Supreme Court.
The ruling in itself does not legalize smoking pot in Mexico, but the Supreme Court ruled in favor of four plaintiffs’ right to produce and use cannabis, meaning it could pave the way for recreational use of marijuana in a country ravaged by drug abuse and the monopoly of drug cartels. The unprecedented decision by Mexico’s Supreme Court is supported by the argument that smoking marijuana is covered under the right of “free development of personality,” a constitutional right in the country.
Hannah Hetzer of the Drug Policy Alliance, a drug reform advocacy group, said in an interview (via the Washington Post) that the decision is monumental because the right to smoking pot was advocated on the grounds of human rights for the first time in Mexico’s history.
“It’s really a monumental case. It was argued on human rights grounds, which is unusual, and it’s taking place in Mexico, the epicenter of some of the worst effects of the war on drugs.”
The decision comes at a time when the United States is grappling with the implementation of laws meant to legalize smoking pot in the country. Only this week, voters in Ohio rejected legalizing marijuana primarily because it would have given a monopoly to just 10 farms to grow and distribute it, as reported by the Independent. California had passed new laws to regulate the consumption of the drug at the end of last month.
Interestingly, Mexico has nowhere the same number of pot smokers as the U.S. Only 1.2 percent of Mexicans are estimated to use the drug, compared with 12.6 percent in the United States, and as much as two-thirds of marijuana in the United States could be coming from Mexico. In this regard, whether Mexico chooses to regulate its marijuana production in the future could have a huge bearing on the United States.
Advocates of marijuana in Mexico say that pot should be legalized on two grounds. The first pertains to the fact that smoking pot is an expression of personal liberty, something guaranteed by Mexico’s constitution. Second, and perhaps more importantly, advocates argue that legalizing pot could take control of cannabis away from powerful narco cartels and protect Mexicans who choose to use it.
The case was brought to the Mexico Supreme Court by a pro-marijuana group, Mexicans United for Responsible and Tolerant Consumption (the acronym SMART in Spanish) who, since 2013, began filing legal arguments that would allow Mexicans to grow, possess, and consume marijuana. After two years, the group’s appeals found their way to the Supreme Court, and now the group says the latest ruling has strengthened its belief to pursue its endeavors to legalize pot.
“It’s the drama behind all our efforts,” said Juan Francisco Torres Landa, a lawyer who was a plaintiff in the Supreme Court, according to the New York Times.
The way the Supreme Court rulings work in Mexico are very different from the U.S. The recent verdict allows the four plaintiffs to grow and smoke pot, but unlike the U.S., a Supreme Court ruling does not immediately make it the law of the land. For that to happen, at least four other individuals or groups would have to receive similar rulings from Mexico’s Supreme Court.
In any case, the decision is set to ignite a fierce debate about the effectiveness of imprisoning drug users in Mexico, a country which has one of the harshest drug laws.
President Enrique Pena Nieto, who has previously hinted that he is in favor of easing laws pertaining to marijuana use in Mexico, welcomed the ruling, saying regulating pot could be the best way forward for the country.
“This will open up the debate over the best regulation for inhibiting drug consumption, a public health issue Mexico has promoted in international forums … broadening the discussion.”
It would be interesting to see what direction the country takes now that Mexico’s Supreme Court has passed the landmark judgment, but at least for the four plaintiffs, smoking pot could never be easier.
[Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images]