In a landmark ruling, Mexico's Supreme Court has permitted recreational use of marijuana. The court gave a group of activists permission to grow and smoke their own pot, but not sell it. This ruling is expected to prompt other activists to turn to the apex court, which must issue five similar rulings to establish a legal precedent.
Contributing to a growing drug policy debate in Latin America, the justices on Wednesday, November 4, 2015, voted 4-1 in favor of the four members of the Mexican Society for Responsible and Tolerant Personal Use, whose Spanish acronym spells 'SMART'.
Justice Arturo Zaldivar, who backed the group's effort, said, "The country's marijuana prohibition is an extreme and disproportionate measure."
The group hopes the ruling will force Congress to consider legalizing marijuana, a move they say would strip drug cartels of a key source of cash and therefore reduce the country's runaway violence.
President Enrique Pena Nieto, who has opposed the legalization of pot, said, "My government respects and accepts the ruling. The decision is limited in scope to the four members of SMART and that it does not mean a broader legalization of marijuana. The ruling, however, opens a broad debate on how to regulate the use of marijuana and inhibit its consumption."
Health Minister Mercedes Juan Lopez said, "My ministry will now have to draft new regulations to ensure that the health of non-pot smokers and children is protected. The government will also have to look at terms for importing seeds."
The SMART members themselves said, "We do not even plan to grow and smoke pot. Rather, we want to force the government and lawmakers to rethink the controversial war on drugs. This is not for the four of us. The goal was to 'break' the government's marijuana prohibition."
Jorge Mario Pardo, the judge who voted against SMART, argued, "The ruling could not work because it does not address the ban against obtaining the seeds to grow marijuana."