HomeNewsBriefWhat Next, After Mexico Marijuana Reforms?
BRIEF

What Next, After Mexico Marijuana Reforms?

DRUG POLICY / 5 NOV 2015 BY MIKE LASUSA EN

A ruling by Mexico's Supreme Court will allow four individuals to grow and possess marijuana for personal consumption, setting a legal precedent for further challenges to the country's laws banning production and distribution of the drug.

Yesterday's decision only applies to the four activists from the Mexican Society for Responsible and Tolerant Personal Use (SMART, by its Spanish acronym) who initiated the case. The ruling leaves intact the prohibition on the production and sale of marijuana for commercial purposes. However, it represents a significant step away from the prohibitionist policies that Mexico has pursued in the past.

Fabian Aguinaco, a lawyer for SMART, told Time magazine that the ruling could eventually lead to similar cases that could end criminal penalties surrounding the marijuana trade. "This is like when you make a hole in a well. All the water pours out," Aguinaco said.

Mexico ended criminal penalties for recreational drug consumption and the possession of less than five grams of marijuana in 2009. However, moves toward further decriminalization have not come without controversy. Recent studies have shown that a majority of Mexicans oppose legalizing the drug for recreational purposes.

No political parties have made a point of vocally opposing legalization, according to El Pais; yet only the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) has advocated ending the "punitive paradigm" surrounding the drug. Other prominent figures have called for a debate about current drug policy. President Enrique Peña Nieto said he will respect the Supreme Court's decision, but he and other government officials emphasized its limited scope and the need for programs to educate the public about the risks of marijuana use.

InSight Crime Analysis

Given the narrow scope of yesterday's ruling, its immediate impact on the Mexican marijuana trade will be minimal. As El Daily Post puts it, this is mostly a symbolic victory for reformers. However, further steps towards decriminalization within Mexico could eventually increase consumption within the country. Some criminal groups could see an opportunity there, although it is also possible that they will be unable to compete if Mexico successfully creates a legal market. 

SEE ALSO:  Mexico News and Profiles

While criticism of prohibitionist drug policy has been mounting recently, marijuana decriminalization could have unintended impacts when it comes to organized crime. In Mexico, where the marijuana trade is controlled by violent crime groups, removing criminal penalties for the production and distribution of the drug without establishing adequate countermeasures in terms of regulation and public health programs could provide a dangerous boon for the underworld.

Mexico's criminal groups have previously demonstrated their ability to adapt to changes in the market, reportedly in response to decriminalization efforts in the United States. As InSight Crime has previously reported, Mexican groups appear to be seeking to improve the quality of the marijuana they produce, in order to compete with more sophisticated marijuana growing operations in the United States.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

EXTORTION / 20 MAY 2011

Mexico's government secretary said that organized criminal groups now control whole areas of territory in the country, and…

HUMAN RIGHTS / 30 MAY 2013

A group of 11 people reportedly went missing following a police operation at a bar in Mexico’s Federal District, calling…

INFOGRAPHICS / 30 NOV 2010

InSight Crime maps where Mexican authorities have found mass graves in Mexico since the beginning of 2010. …

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Who Are Memo Fantasma and Sergio Roberto de Carvalho?

24 JUN 2022

Inside the criminal career of Memo Fantasma  In March 2020, InSight Crime revealed the identity and whereabouts of Memo Fantasma, a paramilitary commander and drug trafficker living in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Environmental and Academic Praise

17 JUN 2022

InSight Crime’s six-part series on the plunder of the Peruvian Amazon continues to inform the debate on environmental security in the region. Our Environmental Crimes Project Manager, María Fernanda Ramírez,…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Series on Plunder of Peru’s Amazon Makes Headlines

10 JUN 2022

Since launching on June 2, InSight Crime’s six-part series on environmental crime in Peru’s Amazon has been well-received. Detailing the shocking impunity enjoyed by those plundering the rainforest, the investigation…

THE ORGANIZATION

Duarte’s Death Makes Waves

3 JUN 2022

The announcement of the death of Gentil Duarte, one of the top dissident commanders of the defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), continues to reverberate in Venezuela and Colombia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Cattle Trafficking Acclaim, Investigation into Peru’s Amazon 

27 MAY 2022

On May 18, InSight Crime launched its most recent investigation into cattle trafficking between Central America and Mexico. It showed precisely how beef, illicitly produced in Honduras, Guatemala…