When the Mexican Senate continually failed to approve the legalization bill passed by the lower house, it was certain that the Mexican Supreme Court would act.
Now they have, and it’s going to get interesting. As the Guardian reports:
“In an 8-3 decision on Monday, the court ruled that sections of the country’s general health law prohibiting personal consumption and home cultivation of marijuana were unconstitutional. Adults wanting to cultivate and consume their own cannabis will be able to apply for permits from the health secretariat. Criminal penalties for possessing more than five grammes of marijuana or selling the drug remain in place.”
Well, that’s really not going to work in Mexico, where the criminal justice system is utterly corrupt, so Congress will be under even more pressure to legalize retail sales… at the very least.
First, remember that American (and Canadian) tourism is vital to the Mexican economy. Of course, the only Mexico that most tourists see is not the “real Mexico.” Also remember that Canada and most of the U.S. now have some form of legal marijuana, so there is already a huge market wanting legal marijuana in Mexico just like back home.
It is also important to note that keeping Drug War violence out of the major tourist centers is essential to both tourism and the contraband drug gangs. On the other hand, politicians everywhere are reluctant to take political risks, and the Mexican government may still fail to act. Then what?
Ironically, the Dutch “coffeeshop” system may be the best model in the interim. Under the Dutch system, everything is still technically illegal, but limited purchases (coincidentally? 5 grams) are tolerated.
Or Barcelona may offer an even better model, “Cannabis Social Clubs.”
Unfortunately, but typically, the response from Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, always called AMLO, was incoherent:
“It was decided not to intervene and wait for the [scjn] to decide because it was up to the judiciary to decide, so they already made this decision, the ministers of the court, we are going to analyze the effects on this measure and we are going to follow up.”
He has previously opposed legalization, so this may be an improvement.
Ironically, the news from the Mexican Supreme Court was echoed by U.S. Supreme Justice Clarence Thomas, who may be the most conservative member of the court. He said federal bans on marijuana may no longer be necessary.
In an Obiter dictum, Thomas contended current laws no longer make sense.
“A prohibition on interstate use or cultivation of marijuana may no longer be necessary or proper to support the federal government’s piecemeal approach.”
“Federal policies of the past 16 years have greatly undermined its reasoning,” he wrote. “The federal government’s current approach is a half-in, half-out regime that simultaneously tolerates and forbids local use of marijuana.”
Thomas’s statement has no binding legal significance, but given his stature among American Conservatives, it is very important politically.
Ironically, 120 years ago, “Mr. Dooley,” a fictional Irish immigrant bartender, said, “the Supreme Court follows the election returns.”
Apparently, that is still true on both sides of our southern border.
Richard Cowan is a former NORML National Director and author of Blue Ribbon Hemp.