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Legal Marijuana Cultivation Is Coming to Mexico

MEXICO CITY, MEX. — Guillermo Sivelli, activist with Students For a Sensible Drug Policy, was feeling positive on Wednesday afternoon, a few hours before the Mexican Supreme Court was scheduled to hand down its historic decision regarding citizens’ ability to grow their own small quantities of marijuana.

“We hope that the judges say, ‘today it’s sunny,'” he said. “‘Today you can grow your own marijuana.'”

Around him, a festive air pervaded among the activists assembled before the nation’s highest court. Their positivity proved prophetic.

Supreme Court justices in Mexico approved Wednesday the country’s first instance of legal cultivation of marijuana, specifically for four activists who formed their own cannabis club to challenge the country’s drug laws.

The court ruled that it was unconstitutional to bar individuals from personal use and consumption, calling it a violation of the human right to develop one’s one personality.

The ruling, though not applicable to the population as a whole, does leave the door open for future steps towards legalization in a country where the War on Drugs has claimed an estimated 40,000 lives since president Enrique Peña Nieto took office.

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“While this is a huge victory when you think about where Mexico has come from, it’s going to be one step of many to make sure that everyone has the same rights,” said Zara Snapp of the Global Commission on Drug Policy. “There’s a long series of steps that have to take place for a drug policy in Mexico that puts human rights, health and development at its center.”

According to statistics presented by Mexico’s Party of the Democratic Revolution [PRD], between 2009 and 2013 145,000 Mexicans were arrested for carrying or consuming small amounts of drugs. The PRD is the only major political party in the country that has made its support for the legalization public.

Its youth organization, Juventudes de Izquierda, offered information on ending the War on Drugs from a tent erected in front of the Supreme Court today.

This is the second of two recent major advances in the legalization movement in the country. In September, a judge ruled that eight-year-old epileptic Graciela Elizalde would be become Mexico’s first legal medical marijuana patient.

The next step for Mexico? The Supreme Court would have to adjudicate on four more auto cultivation cases – or present a super majority of its 8 out of 11 judges — to establish jurisprudence. But lawmakers could present legislation that would expedite the process to make legal marijuana accessible to all. In Mexico City, personal possession of up to five grams of marijuana is legal, but it is not legal to buy, sell or consume the substance.

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Though joints and pipes dotted the crowd that gathered in front of the court alongside Mexico City’s Zócalo — the country’s largest plaza and historical site of its most important political demonstrations — not everyone heralded the judgment for its significance for personal consumption.

“We think that auto cultivation is one of the real solutions we have against narcotráfico [the drug trade],” said Sivelli. “We hope that this will take us toward a more open society.”

After the verdict had been announced, activists proclaimed they would march to the Angel of Independence, one of the capital’s major landmarks. As the group, including students, a senior man with a Darth Vader helmet on a bike and mothers with their children, moved past the Zócalo’s National Palace, a chant rose above the capital’s afternoon din: “Pachecos unidos jamás serán vencidos! (Stoners united will never be defeated!)”