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On November 5, the Supreme Court of Mexico’s Criminal Chamber voted in favor of cannabis. Regarding one petition, the court ruled that citizens of Mexico should be permitted to grow, posses, and use their own cannabis.

While the 4-1 vote does not legalize the sale of cannabis, it is the first step in the process of changing the current system. At the very least, this ruling challenges Mexico’s stern substance abuse policies, and pushes encourages questioning the current spending on the Latin American war on drugs.

This is the second federal ruling in favor of cannabis this year. In September, a federal judge ruled that the family of an eight year old girl who suffers from severe epilepsy should be permitted to import cannabinoid medicine to treat the condition, under their constitutional right to protect their health.

In a country where the government has failed, even with such conservative drug laws, to eliminate massive cartel movement in and out of the country, this vote demonstrates a shift of views in Mexico. With the large amounts of violence and government corruption, leading to the movement of drugs through the United States, the legalization of cannabis could remove some power from the drug underworld that has been thriving for years in Mexico.

Several of the United States have embraced legal cannabis for both medicinal and recreational use, yet the US has remained the number one place for Mexican cannabis imports. Armando Santacruz, a plaintiff in the case, spoke about the problem with trying to stop the illegal transport of marijuana from Mexico,

“We are killing ourselves to stop the production of something that is heading to the U.S., where it’s legal.”

Although legalization in the United States has allowed for citizens to have access to higher quality cannabis, a large amount of black market product still comes from Mexico.

While this vote was simply an initial step, there are five more petitions addressing the use of cannabis. There are only two ways that cannabis could be fully legalized in Mexico. If eight of the 11 member of the full Supreme Court voted in favor of such a step, cannabis could be fully legalized, or if the justices of the criminal chamber rule in favor five more times. After five rulings, a precedent is set. The legalization of same sex marriages in Mexico was the result of a similar process.

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