A participant in a 2011 march in favor of marijuana policy reform in Mexico. (Image: Alfredo Gayou, CC BY 2.0)
Latin America: Week in Review, Mexico

Mexico’s Supreme Court Rules Prohibition of Marijuana Use Unconstitutional

November 5, 2015 By Staff

Top Story — Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday in favor of allowing the four members of a marijuana-rights organization to grow and smoke their own marijuana, a move that could set the stage for eventual legalization of the drug.

The Mexican Society for Responsible and Tolerant Personal Self-Consumption, called SMART in its Spanish acronym, brought the case in 2013, resulting in Wednesday’s 4-1 ruling that found the prohibition of marijuana cultivation for personal use to be a violation of the right to “free development of a personality” and therefore unconstitutional.

While the ruling only applies to the members of SMART, drug policy reform activists say the ruling should be extended to all and that it could be a potential first step in the full decriminalization of drugs in Mexico. For his part, President Enrique Peña Nieto told reporters on Wednesday that he has always supported a broader debate on drug legalization, The Guardian reported.

“This does not open or in any way signify the legalization of marijuana consumption, nor the commercialization, nor the transportation of it,” he added.

The decision follows a 2009 ruling that decriminalized possession of small amounts marijuana, cocaine and heroin for personal use, offenses which, prior to that ruling, rarely resulted in legal action, officials told The New York Times.

In an October survey by polling firm Parametria, 77 percent of respondents said they oppose the legalization of marijuana, although 81 percent said they would support its legal use for medicinal purposes.

Headlines from the Western Hemisphere

North America

  • The governor of Mexico’s Quintana Roo state, where Cancún is located, said that suspects have been identified in two out of three killings of women that have taken place in the past few days, one of which incited a protest on Sunday because she was a university student and her body showed signs of sexual abuse.
  • A supposed cancer patient accompanied by two paramedics allegedly smuggled 84 pounds of cocaine in their luggage onto an ambulance air flight from Tijuana, Mexican police said Wednesday upon detaining the three suspects for further investigation.
  • Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office said forensics investigators will be deployed to Carrizalillo in southern Guerrero state to examine mass graves that are rumored to contain the remains of the 43 students from the town of Iguala.


  • Lawmakers in Puerto Rico reviewed a bill Wednesday designed to alleviate the $9 billion debt burden of the island’s state-run power company — a goal that many Puerto Ricans worry will result in even higher energy bills, which are already twice as high as on the mainland United States.
  • New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio will attend a rally in San Juan on Thursday called to demand that the U.S. Congress allocate more money to healthcare on the island, an issue of great importance for New York’s large Puerto Rican population.

Central America

  • Officials in Panama said on Wednesday that they broke up a drug-trafficking ring that served as a link between Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel and FARC rebels in Colombia.


  • Colombia’s constitutional court on Wednesday delivered a landmark ruling banning adoption agencies from discriminating against LGBT couples during the adoption process, prompting an immediate protest from the Roman Catholic Church.
  • Bolivian President Evo Morales has decried what he says is Chile’s attempt to intimidate its neighbors by conducting a large-scale military exercise over a period of 13 days along the border it shares with Bolivia and Peru.
  • Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has pledged to shave off his famous mustache if his administration fails to deliver on a promise to build 1 million public housing units by Dec. 31.
  • In light of recent progress made during ongoing peace talks between the Colombian government and FARC rebels, Amnesty International has called on the government to ensure that the rights of displaced indigenous and Afro-descended groups are prioritized in the peace process.

Southern Cone

  • Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff is confident that Congress will approve her administration’s new arguments against a ruling that she manipulated federal accounts prior to her election in 2014, her chief of staff said Wednesday.
  • The British head of Formula One racing told Reuters recently he hopes to bring the sport back to Argentina, but that he is waiting to see who wins the upcoming presidential runoff, although he did not specify which candidate he favors.

Subscribe to Today in Latin America by Email