Mexico Supreme Court Deems Ban On Recreational Marijuana Unconstitutional
It's a good day for cannabis advocates! First, our neighbors up north in Canada legalized marijuana for recreational use in early October 2018. And now, right at the end of that month, it appears that an October 31 ruling by the Mexican Supreme Court has struck down a ban on recreational marijuana.
The ruling effectively legalizes cannabis throughout all of Mexico. This leaves the United States as the last large-scale North American country to hold their ban on recreational weed, a move that is looking increasingly outdated.
How did marijuana become legal in Mexico?
Unlike Canada, lawmakers didn't sign a new bill in order to blanket legalize cannabis. Rather, the courts legalized weed using precedent, which established that the ban on recreational marijuana was unconstitutional.
In order to establish firm legal precedent in any case, one must have five similar cases with similar final rulings. This creates something known as jurisprudence, a law philosophy that holds firm when other legal cases are compared. For example, imagine that bubblegum were suddenly banned. If five cases ruled that the bubblegum ban was not legal under the country's constitution, then the ban on bubblegum would be lifted by the courts, freeing up anyone to buy bubblegum. Now swap gum with marijuana and you're on the right track.
Froylán Enciso, a drug policy researcher for CIDE, Mexico's social sciences institute, told UPI, "The rulings pave the way for adults to use marijuana in any way they see fit. We aren't just talking about recreational use."
Does this legal precedent actually legalize weed in Mexico?
That remains to be seen, but technically, now that the Mexico Supreme Court has handed down this judgement, the government *should* be forced to adhere to its ruling.
"The court has found that marijuana can be used for rituals, for recreational use, for medical use, at work, for scientific investigations," Enciso added. "For any adult use and that it cannot be penalized."
But the courts were quick to issue this statement that the "ruling did not create an absolute right to use marijuana and that consumption of certain substances could still be subject to regulation.'" This could leave the ruling up for interpretation based on whichever government is currently in power.
Thankfully, Mexico's recent President-elect, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has indicated in the past that he is open to considering full marijuana legalization measures. This ruling from the Mexican Supreme Court will likely result in intense pressure from citizens and lawmakers to legalize weed with a new law. And given the tensions between Mexico and the United States, it's also possible Mexico may legalize weed, if nothing else, to make the United States look behind on the subject.
Is the United States next to legalize cannabis?
A lot may depend on the 2018 midterms, which (as of this writing) are just under a week away.
Despite cannabis being a bonafide winning political issue, both parties have been fairly reticent to back legal weed, though many democrats have expressed a desire to reform cannabis laws and bring a "safe pathway to legalization."
There are vocal supporters of legalizing marijuana on both sides of the political aisle, but they are not always the majority voice, nor do they hold much political sway. That said, the biggest heavy-hitter to turn around on legal cannabis has been Republican and former House speaker John Boehner, who recently went "all in" on marijuana legalization, joining the advisory board of Acreage Holdings. Boehner predicts full legalization in the United States in less than five years from 2018.
Recent challenges by pharmaceutical companies, like GW Pharmaceuticals, were also made to marijuana's Schedule I status on the list of Controlled Substances. Schedule I means that the drug contains no medicinal value, is addictive and dangerous to society as a whole. This, obviously, isn't the case for marijuana, but it has remained (provisionally, no less) on the list as a Schedule I narcotics since the Nixon era. Challenges like these could result in marijuana's rescheduling.
Though full cannabis legalization still feels like it is years from happening, the wheels are turning and opinions are changing. With more than 60% of American households now approving of recreational marijuana, according to polls by Pew Research and Gallup, it is only a matter of time until a candidate learns that marijuana in the United States is the next winning political issue.
Until that time, if you're passionate about cannabis advocacy, keep voting for candidates who support marijuana legalization. Every vote counts!
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