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Mexico Supreme Court Strikes Down Cannabis Prohibition

The ruling means that marijuana use and possession are legal in Mexico, as the country waits on a new law

Borderland Beat

Nearly three years ago, Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that the nation’s Cannabis prohibition is unconstitutional. The court voted on Monday to end marijuana criminalization on its own after lawmakers failed to pass a legalization bill by a key deadline. The Mexican Cannabis community faces a “legal vacuum” until lawmakers get that passed, reports AFP.

The court in 2018 ordered Mexico’s legislature to enact a policy change. Both chambers of the Congress advanced reform legislation in varying forms, reports Marijuana Moment. They required multiple deadline extensions to do so. But lawmakers were finally unable to fulfill their legal obligation on time by the end of the most recent session.

Cannabis possession and cultivation will be legal in Mexico as a result of the 8-3 vote. The Ministry of Health would still have some regulatory authority with respect to permitting personal cultivation. But people won’t need to submit requests for legal protections through a more complicated judicial process, as was the case until now.

Minister Norma Lucía Piña Hernández, who serves on the Supreme Court, filed a general declaration of unconstitutionality earlier this month, setting the stage for Monday’s historic vote.

Quick Action Needed, Say Activists

Mexico’s lawmakers came close to success when writing a law to legalize Cannabis. But they ultimately failed to do so. A legalization bill approved by the lower chamber of Mexico’s congress failed to clear the Senate. Activists say the Supreme Court decision underscores the need for lawmakers to pass a measure quickly to establish a system of legal and regulated sales.

They are trying to ensure an equitable marijuana market is established. They envision social equity provisions one which address the disproportionate harms of criminalization on certain communities. And marijuana legalization, of promotes personal freedom for the entire adult populace.

Some political observers speculated that the Senate would again ask the court for an extension to the April 30 deadline. But that did not take place. Lawmakers may instead hold a special legislative session to write the marijuana law this year.

Lawmakers Dicker With the Details

Adults 18 and older could legally buy and have up to 28 grams of marijuana and cultivate up to six plants for personal use under the current proposal. The deputies have made changes that principally concern the regulatory structure, rules for the commercial market and licensing policies.

One of the most notable changes made by the Chamber of Deputies was that the revised bill would not establish a new independent regulatory body to oversee the licensing and implementation of the program. That was in version approved by the Senate. Instead, the deputies’ version would give that authority to the National Commission Against Addictions, an existing agency.

Deputies also approved additional revisions to increase penalties for unauthorized possession of large amounts of Cannabis. Another provision would prevent forest land from being converted to marijuana growing. It would also require regulators to “coordinate campaigns against problematic Cannabis use and…develop permanent actions to deter and prevent its use by minors and vulnerable groups.”

Advocates Had Hoped For More

Advocates had hoped for a more carefully written law. They called for changes during the legislative process to further promote social equity and eliminate strict penalties for violating the law.

Until the legislature acts, criminal penalties will remain for possession of more than five grams of marijuana, reports The Guardian.

Mexico United Against Crime said the court decision “does not decriminalize the activities necessary to carry out consumption.”

These activities include production, possession and transportation of marijuana, according to the group,.

The ruling “leaves a legal vacuum with respect to the consumption, cultivation and distribution of cannabis,” it added. The group called on Congress to pass the necessary legislation.

Veteran pot legalization activist Jorge Hernandez Tinajero, with the Mexican Association of Cannabis Studies, was also skeptical about the announcement.

“They do not dare to go further,” he said, adding that recreational Cannabis users still faced legal obstacles to possessing marijuana.

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