Mexican Supreme Court Says People Have a Right to Smoke Pot

The decision could ultimately lead to decriminalization of cannabis consumption and home cultivation.



Mexico's Supreme Court yesterday ruled that individuals should have the right to grow, possess, and consume marijuana. According to the official summary of the decision, the court's criminal division concluded that the right to "free development of the personality" includes the freedom to enage in recreational activities, subject to restrictions "necessary to protect health and public order." In the court's view, the damage caused by consumption and noncommercial production of marijuana is not "of such gravity as to warrant an absolute ban."

The court was responding to a lawsuit brought by activists who asked COFEPRIS, the national agency in charge of regulating drugs, for permission to use marijuana. When COFEPRIS said no, the applicants challenged the its decision in the courts. According to The New York Times, the Supreme Court's ruling applies only to the cannabis consumers who brought the case. "For legal marijuana to become the law of the land," the Times says, "the justices in the court's criminal chamber will have to rule the same way five times, or eight of the 11 members of the full court will have to vote in favor."

Assuming one of those things happens, it sounds like the resulting policy would be not full legalization but decriminalization of consumption and home cultivation—something like the current situation in Washington, D.C., where Congress has prevented local officials from licensing and regulating marijuana businesses. "If Mexicans are allowed to grow and consume their own marijuana, casual users will not have to commit a crime to obtain it," the Times says. "Marijuana users are currently vulnerable to extortion by the police and are locked up by the thousands every year on charges of consumption and possession."

The Times cites an estimate that "60 percent of the inmates sentenced for drug crimes [in Mexico] were convicted in cases involving marijuana." It's not clear how many of those inmates grew or possessed marijuana for their own use, as opposed to distribution. The latter category of marijuana offenders, which in the U.S. accounts for a small share of arrests but the vast majority of jail and prison sentences, would not be affected by a policy that merely allows consumption and noncommercial cultivation.

NEXT: Bernie Sanders Unveils Legislation to Repeal Pot Prohibition

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  1. Juan Towelie approves.

    Now, if we can get an article on butt secks, we’ll have the trifecta.

    1. “Increase in Messican pot use leads to moar buttsecks!”

      1. *chemsex.

  2. Seems like the cartels will probably have the SC of Mexico killed. Can’t see how this does their business any good at all. I seem to remember that by volume, 90% of the cartels’ business is smuggling weed. And from what I have read, the cartels operate with relative impunity in Mexico and don’t tend to be the understanding types….

    1. Thanks, for the number, I was going to ask about that. I wonder what fraction of their revenue it makes up.

      1. That’s a good question. I’m not entirely sure what “by volume” is supposed to mean.

    2. That was my first thought, but the right to “free development of the personality” includes the freedom to enage in recreational activities, subject to restrictions “necessary to protect health and public order” seems to cover the Ohio approach of legalizing the cartels. Maybe one of the top criminal gangs in Mexico is calling for a sit-down with the other criminal gangs and suggesting they hash oil out a plan to divvy up the territory so that they can end all the violence and bloodshed but still keep the filthy lucre.

    3. Seems like this wouldn’t be much of a threat to the cartels. I doubt they are making much money off of recreational users in Mexico. But I suppose you can’t count on the cartels to be terribly reasonable.

      I’m kind of amazed if weed really accounts for that much of their business. Who the hell still smokes Mexican weed?

    4. I seem to remember that by volume, 90% of the cartels’ business is smuggling weed. I doubt it. Citation?

  3. So I wonder how long it will be before we see narco tours to Mexican beach resorts? Sounds like they still have restrictions on commercial sale of weed but I suppose they could open pay-to-enter clubs where pot is provided as a side offering with your purchased drinks.

    1. Haven’t people been doing that informally for decades already?

  4. As indicated in the article, this isn’t like the U.S. Supreme Court, where every 5-4 decree is immediately treated as the law.

    This is from an article on the Mexican legal system:

    “…Certain judgments, called educators, of the federal courts including the Mexican Supreme Court and the circuit courts, and, at the state level, judgments issued at the appellate level (Tribunal Superior de Justicia), have persuasive value and are published although they are not widely circulated….

    “Also, binding case law precedents not unlike common law precedents do exist in Mexico. These are called jurisprudencia, are published from time to time and are supplemented through restatements, or summaries of what the law is and how it has changed. To qualify as a jurisprudencia definida, the legal principle set forth in a case must interpret Mexican law under a Writ of Amparo, which is a summary proceeding that serves to guarantee constitutional rights. This relevant legal issue must also be decided the same way in 5 consecutive cases by majority vote of the judges and without and inconsistent ruling by the deciding court of the Supreme Court. Such rulings are binding only on equal or lower courts and administrative courts, not on executive administrative agencies. The concept of jurisprudencia has been expanded broadly with the increased use and number of administrative courts in Mexico.”

    1. “Whereas in the U.S. when law is declared unconstitutional its unconstitutionality is usually applied universally, in Mexico, for the reasons stated above, the law is unconstitutional only for the party which filed the amparo case. Others who wish to challenge the law must file their own cases.”


      2. The Mexican Law Review weighs in.

  5. In other good-but-sad-because-it’s-so-rare news, a shooty cop has actually been punished for getting shooty. Well, not punished-punished, but they did take away the award they had awarded him for the shootyness after it turned out there was public video evidence that made it a little harder to explain the shootyness.

    1. Dude is on his hands and knees, and the cop shoots him twice. Then dude is charged with attempted murder.

      1. The usual suspects are claiming it’s a righteous shoot since the gun was laying right there on the ground where the guy could easily have grabbed it. IOW, the guy wasn’t armed but he could easily have been armed so the cops are okay to shoot. Yet more evidence that the standard is no longer “the cops can shoot if you are a threat” but “the cops can shoot if you are not obviously not a threat”. If they can’t see your hands or what’s in them, you’re dead. But if you’re approached by a cop and immediately move to show them your empty hands, guess what’s going to happen?

  6. I’d rephrase that: they have the liberty to smoke pot, free from government aggression.

  7. Any chance the U.S. Supreme Court would ever let slip a radically individualistic phrase like “free development of the personality”?

    1. I got the impression that was some constitutional phrase.

      1. From my quick review of the (long) Mexican constitution, those words aren’t anywhere in it. There is some language that may be construed that way, for example it bars criminalization of acts that don’t harm others or “society”.

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