By David Lawler, Washington
11 december 2015
Mexico yesterday granted the country’s first ever permits to grow and consume cannabis, in what advocates called a step towards legislation.
Health officials authorised the permits one month after Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that the individuals- members of a pro-cannabis group- could legally produce marijuana for their own recreational use.
The landmark decision could have widespread implications for the country, where billions of pounds worth of cannabis are cultivated and trafficked annually, and drug cartels are both powerful and brutally violent.
Like the permits issued yesterday, the court’s decision was limited to just the four members, but a series of similar rulings could set a precedent for widespread legalisation.
Advocates of cannabis legalisation say that would block a lucrative revenue stream for the cartels, and help prevent further violence.
President Enrique Peña Nieto opposes legalisation, however, on the grounds that it will lead to further drug use.
The permits granted yesterday state that the four individuals cannot smoke marijuana in the presence of children, pregnant women, or anyone who has not given consent.
All four are members of a group called Smart that is pushing for further steps toward legalisation.
They now have the right to “sow, grow, harvest, prepare, possess, transport and consume marijuana for recreational uses”, but say their goal is not to use marijuana, but to change government policy.
Dozens of other individuals have already filed applications for permits.
The relaxing of prohibitions against the drug in Mexico would follow a trend in recent years across the Americas.
Uruguay fully legalised cannabis in 2013, the first country to do so.
Four US states have made recreational consumption legal, while approximately half allow cannabis for medical use.
In announcing the Supreme Court’s decision last month, Justice Arturo Zalvidar cited an individual’s “freedom to develop themselves”.
Supreme Court judge Arturo Zaldivar Lelo de Larrea attends a meeting at Supreme Court building in Mexico City.
“The responsible decision taken to experiment with the effects of this substance — whatever personal harm it might do — belongs within the autonomy of the individual,” he said.
Baroness Meacher, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform, told the Telegraph that she welcomed the November ruling.
“Mexico and other Central American States are aware that prohibition has been a disaster for them,” she said. “Increasing numbers of US States have reformed cannabis policy, and more will do so.
“Mexico therefore has nothing to fear and I anticipate sensible health based policies for cannabis in Mexico and elsewhere.”