Mexican health authorities issued the first permit allowing 4 people to grow and use their own marijuana for recreational purposes. The move follows a landmark Supreme Court ruling.
The government health watchdog Cofepris stressed that the authorization is limited to those four people – 2 lawyers, an account, and a social activist – only. It will still be illegal for permit holders to use the substance in front of children and pregnant women.
It is also illegal to sell and distribute the drug.
Members of the Mexican Society for Responsible and Tolerant Personal Use (SMART) received the permit. The group is pushing for full legalization of marijuana in that nation to curb drug-related violence.
In November, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of SMART, finding that the prohibitions on using pot were unconstitutional and violated the “right to the free development of personality.”
There are 5 similar petitions pending in the Mexican Supreme Court, and if the court rules the same way on those cases, it would establish the precedent to legalize marijuana for recreational use.
SMART says it has no intention of actually using marijuana, they just want to use the decision to encourage the government to legalize it.
President Enrique Peña Nieto has repeatedly voiced his opposition to legalization and has recruited experts to take part in a national debate in several states between January and March to decide potential new regulations.
The panel of experts will hold the discussions at town hall meetings and will allow ““any citizen that wishes to take part can express his or her opinions and questions about the issue and all Mexicans can follow along,” according to Interior Secretary Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong.
“As a country, we are taking a first step, a step that recognizes this important human right, which is dignity and liberty,” Fabian Aguinaco, a lawyer for SMART, said when the court decision was handed down in November. “This is like when you make a hole in a well. All the water pours out. But we need to construct public policies to regulate [drug use] and also satisfy people’s liberty.”
In the United States, marijuana use is illegal under federal law, but 23 states allow the use of cannabis for medical purposes. Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska have all approved the drug for recreational use.
Voters in Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada and Arizona could face ballot initiatives next year intended to legalize pot.
In California, local governments may have a greater say in where marijuana can be sold, thanks to amendments to an initiative backed by billionaire and former Facebook president Sean Parker. The law would also toughen protections for children, including a ban on marketing to minors and explicit warning labels on marijuana products and require safety standards and enforcement of labor laws for individuals who work in the industry.
Sales and cultivation of marijuana would be taxed under the measure, which would bring in hundreds of millions of dollars for the state.