On Wednesday Nov. 5th, Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled 4-1 that outlawing the possession and use of the marijuana plant represents a violation of fundamental human rights.
This movement doesn’t necessarily mean that marijuana is now legal in Mexico, but it opens doors for other activists to reform bills in favor of passing such legalization laws in the future.
“It’s really a monumental case,” said Hannah Hetzer of the Drug Policy Alliance, a drug reform advocacy group, in an interview. “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 case was brought by four members of Mexicans United for Responsible and Tolerant Consumption, a group set up specifically to challenge laws on this issue in Mexico. Starting in 2013, they began filing legal arguments to be able to grow, possess and consume marijuana. This year, their appeals made it all the way to the Supreme Court. Their argument is based off of the concept of “the right to the free development of one’s personality,” which is printed in Mexico’s constitution. Basically, it’s the right to self-determination, example: The state can’t prevent you from eating lots of junk food, even if it’s not great for your health. As long as you’re not harming other people, you have the right to that choice. And in this instance, the Supreme Court ruled that possessing and consuming marijuana falls under this category.
The ruling does not extend to the commercial marijuana industry, like the ones that exist in Washington and Colorado in the United States. But it does represent the first declaration of the right to use marijuana as a fundamental human right. Hetzer suspects that full marijuana legalization may come to Mexico in the coming years riding on the tail of this ruling. She says that one big factor will be what happens next year when California voters decide whether to legalize marijuana in the state for recreational purposes.