Mexico Supreme Court Overturns Country’s Ban and Legalizes Recreational Marijuana

You can now travel from the Arctic circle to just north of the equator without leaving legalized marijuana jurisdictions. This comes with the most recent developments out of Mexico, where marijuana use has been determined to be a human right. We investigate what happened in Mexico, and how this may affect the rest of the world.

Marijuana is now legal across the entire West Coast of North America. People are calling it the weed coast– an unbroken line of legal marijuana jurisdictions from the arctic circle, to the equator.

On October 31, 2018, Mexico ended its ban on recreational marijuana use. The changes were made on the basis of human rights laws, which are deeply rooted in Mexico’s constitution.

America now remains the only country in North America criminalizing the plant.

Does this make marijuana legal in Mexico?

Not exactly, there are still a few steps that need to be completed before officially making marijuana legal throughout the

What happened in Mexico? What does this mean for marijuana users around the world?

Marijuana Laws in Mexico

The Mexican supreme court ruled 4 to 1 that marijuana use was a fundamental human right. The change was brought to the supreme court by a group referred to as SMART (Mexican Society of Responsible and Tolerant Self-Consumption). The group started filing arguments to appeal all the way back in 2013.

This wasn’t the first time the court made a ruling like this, in fact, it’s the 5th.

Under Mexican law, when the Supreme Court reaches a similar conclusion on 5 separate occasions, the ruling applies to the entire court system.

All judges are now bound by the Supreme Court Judgement, making any conviction for marijuana possession significantly less likely.

Unlike most other countries making similar rulings, the argument in Mexico was made in the context of humans rights. This is unusual for this space, especially coming from Mexico, a country with a history of violence in regard to their war on drugs.

The right to the free development of one’s personality is deeply rooted in Mexico’s constitution. It allows its citizens the right to autonomy. The idea is that if they want to smoke or use cannabis, they should be allowed as long as they aren’t hurting anybody else.

Marijuana was decriminalized back in 2009, and medicinal use was legalized just recently in 2017.

The Weed Coast

These recent changes have created a continuous line of legal or non-prohibited jurisdictions along the entire west coast of North America.

Starting with State legalization of marijuana in Washington in 2012, followed by Oregon in October 2014, Alaska in 2015, and California in November of 2016 the entire West Coast of the United States allowed recreational use of marijuana.

The federal law still prohibits its use, however.

More recently Canada turned over an amendment to their cannabis restrictions, allowing recreational use of the plant as of October 2018.

Now with the changes in Mexico, you can travel the entire West coast without leaving legalization jurisdictions.

What This Means

Mexico is currently stuck in an awkward limbo regarding their marijuana laws. The marijuana prohibition is over, but there are no new laws to replace them. This means that although there are still laws against marijuana use in Mexico, they’re unenforceable.

The Mexican Congress still needs to reform the current laws around marijuana to reflect the changes in the Supreme Court. They were given 90 days to make these changes in accordance with the supreme court ruling.

It remains unclear whether this will mean setting up a system involving taxation and commercial sales, or whether it will act more like Vermont and the District of Columbia where marijuana use is legal, but its sale is not, making it far more difficult for people to obtain it.

Mexico has been talking about the legalization of the plant for a few years now, with some of the primary focus points looking at taxation revenues and destabilization of cartels in the country.

Many of these cartels control the production and distribution of marijuana throughout the country. Allowing citizens to purchase their marijuana from legal businesses would mean a huge revenue hit for these notoriously violent cartels.

President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s cabinet members recently visited Canada to discuss cannabis legalization with Canadian officials.

The current laws don’t make marijuana 100% legal quite yet, but it is a major step forward to the country adopting this change. This is the same process Mexico went through to legalize same-sex marriage. Once the supreme court rules, it takes some time for the laws to be established and appended further down the chain of command.

Pressure On The United Nations Cannabis Laws

These changes, along with changes in Canada, and America in recent months, is putting pressure on the United Nations to change their (now) outdated laws on marijuana. If countries start to move ahead unilaterally outside the conventions set by the U.N it makes them irrelevant.

That’s not a good thing for the U.N dominance as a regulatory body.

How many other conventions will countries start to side-step if this becomes the norm?  

It will be interesting to see how these events unfold, and how Mexican lawmakers will address the supreme court decision.

Will they legalize and commercialize marijuana? Or legalize but keep commercial sales illegal across the country?

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James Reed

James is our in-house cannabis expert and foodie. He earned a Bachelor of Health Sciences with a focus on pharmacology several years ago and has since been working as a writer and editor for cannabis-related blogs and e-commerce brands. In his spare time, he enjoys exploring the landscape around his Crescent City home with his dog Gus.

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About James Reed

James Reed is the founder and editor-in-chief at iSum. He’s a big advocate of marijuana and spent most of his time writing about these topics, sharing what he learned over the years.

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