A court in Mexico has ruled that two people should be allowed to legally use cocaine for recreational purposes, according to media reports. Under the ruling from a judge in Mexico City, the two unnamed people will be allowed to “possess, transport, and use cocaine” although they will not be permitted to sell the drug, according to representatives of the group Mexico United Against Crime (MUCD).
Legal papers were filed in the case by MUCD on behalf of the two people as part of a strategy to reform Mexico’s prohibitionist drug laws and improve public safety. After the ruling, the group said the case signals a new stage in the understanding of drugs by the Mexican judiciary and offers an opportunity to end the country’s War on Drugs.
“We have spent years working for a more secure, just, and peaceful Mexico,” said Lisa Sánchez, MUCD’s director.
“This case is about insisting on the need to stop criminalizing users of drugs… and design better public policies that explore all the available options, including regulation.”
Judge’s Ruling to be Reviewed by Higher Court
The judge’s ruling directs Mexico’s national health department, Cofepris, to authorize the two unidentified persons to possess, transport, and use cocaine recreationally. Officials at Cofepris, however, announced that issuing such authorization is outside of the agency’s authority and blocked the court order.
MUCD emphasized the judge’s ruling does not legalize cocaine in Mexico and is subject to review by a higher court tribunal. But if it stands, it could lead to reform of Mexico’s drug laws and redistribution of law enforcement resources to fight violent crime.
Mexico’s War on Drugs began in 2006 when then-President Felipe Calderón deployed military forces against drug trafficking organized crime gangs. Since that time, the country has seen more than 150,000 intentional homicides that are linked to organized crime, according to a 2018 report from the U.S. Congressional Research Service. In 2018, 33,341 homicides were reported in Mexico, the highest number since the country began keeping records.
“Mexico has been focusing on ‘fighting’ a violent war against these substances for the past 13 years and the results couldn’t be worse: violence has tripled, drug consumption continues to be on the rise and the number of criminal organizations profiting from the illegality of drugs has also increased significantly,” Sanchez said.
“Therefore, what we are doing is using all tools at our reach to foster a debate on the need to reform drug policies in order to define a much more effective security policy.”
Drug Policy Reform Underway
Efforts to reform Mexico’s drug laws have already seen some success. In 2017, the country legalized cannabis for medicinal and scientific purposes. In November of last year, the country’s supreme court ruled that a total ban on the recreational use of marijuana was unconstitutional.
Later the same month, the government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador introduced a bill that would legalize recreational cannabis use and establish regulations for a medical marijuana industry. Currently, Cofepris issues permits for marijuana use on an individual basis.