Placing limits on the amount of cannabis a person can have for personal use is unconstitutional, Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled in a ruling on Wednesday. It is the latest in a series of judgments overturning the cannabis ban, which dates back to 2015 and comes after the court ruled last year that bans on personal use and home cultivation were unconstitutional.
This earlier ruling, however, did not challenge the 5-gram decriminalization in place since 2009, with those in possession of higher amounts facing a potential prison sentence of up to three years.
“The fact that the public prosecutor’s office is authorized to initiate criminal proceedings against a person who possesses more than 5 grams of cannabis for his personal consumption amounts to punishing moral qualities [et] personal behavior, which has no constitutional basis,” Supreme Court Justice Juan Luis González Alcántara wrote.
“Criminal proceedings against the person who possesses cannabis in his private sphere, without affecting third parties or causing a criminal incident, are not justified,” he added.
No limit to possession, but…
This week’s decision, however, left some bitter. The court ruled that only judges or prosecutors – not the police – can determine whether a quantity of cannabis is for personal use. It thus does not immediately reduce the risk of arrest by the police for cannabis users, who can spend up to 48 hours in a prosecutor’s office awaiting a decision from a prosecutor or a judge.
“We are sorry that the Supreme Court approved this. It is contradictory that despite the fact that the bill has all the arguments to put an end to this crime, the Court chooses to perpetuate the criminalization of consumers. We will continue to work to protect the rights of consumers and citizens. We are certain that a safer and more peaceful Mexico needs the decriminalization of drugs” tweeted Mexico United Against Crimea legal NGO whose team defended a person arrested with 30 grams of cannabis, the case behind the decision.
Although the right to consume cannabis has been recognized by the Mexican Supreme Court, the organization also lamented that the judgment failed to eliminate the crime of simple possession of cannabis.
The @SCJN sigue considerando criminales a las personas en posesión de cannabis 👉🏽 https://t.co/AqaikHwmhP pic.twitter.com/vgD3cYoWtY
— Mexico Unido (@MUCD) May 13, 2022
The stoppage comes after the Oaxaca City Council last month ordered police to stop arresting cannabis users, as long as they behave in a respectful manner.
A long-awaited legalization
Over the past six months, Mexican lawmakers have circulated several versions of the bill to legalize cannabis, but it has not been officially reintroduced in the Union Congress. Senate Majority Leader Ricardo Monreal of the ruling Morena party said in November that a constitutionally compliant, “high-level and progressive” cannabis bill would soon be completed by the committees. Health and Justice of the Senate.
But soon after, he hinted that the officials responsible for revamping an earlier version were unable to prepare it in time in a form that could be adopted. “Prohibition [du cannabis] a hundred years old, so what if it takes a few more months,” he said when asked about the postponement.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador also floated the idea of a national referendum on cannabis legalization last year, but recently said there was no consensus on the legalization of drugs, including including cannabis.
“Overcoming the formal obstacles of the past is not an easy task, but I have full confidence that in this legislature we can achieve it,” said the President of the Chamber of Deputies, Olga Sánchez Cordero, late March.