Adult use of cannabis is now considered a human right in Mexico, but people don’t know how to get permission or where to consume their pot, due to confusing legal gaps left by a recent Supreme Court declaration.
Cannabis users have become more vulnerable as they think it’s legal to consume in public but can still face legal consequences if they do it, Movimiento Ciudadano deputy Martha Tagle Martinez tells Mugglehead.
“I believe it is urgent that the next legislature fulfills its role after the declaration of unconstitutionality in order to guarantee user rights,” says Tagle, whose legislative term ends this month.
There’s no clarity on permits for self-cultivation, where weed can be consumed and a series of other measures that regulate use.
On June 28, the Mexican Supreme Court ended cannabis prohibition after it was declared unconstitutional three years ago. In 2018, lawmakers in Congress were told to create a law to respect users’ rights, but even after three extensions by the court, they failed to do so and didn’t meet an April 30 deadline.
After weeks passed from the missed deadline and continuing pressure from activists, the Supreme Court declared prohibition was unconstitutional and the articles under the Health Law prohibiting use of the plant were modified. But buying and selling cannabis is still prohibited.
In the absence of a new law, confusion remains on what’s allowed. Discussions on passing a new bill could begin as early as September with a newly elected legislature, but activists doubt this will happen.
Activists want weed to be treated like tobacco
Plantón 420, the oldest cannabis activist group in the country, wants to take the matter into their own hands by trying to get direct authorization from Mexico City authorities. They want citizens to be able to smoke in public, as city officials seem to support the group, says movement leader Pepe Rivera.
“We are talking about modifications to the local laws of the city, to guarantee that consumption on the street is not a problem — basically that it gets treated the same as tobacco,” Rivera tells Mugglehead.
“I am starting to suspect that the regulations won’t be passed during this administration.”
Deputee Tagle says she hopes talks will resume next month with the new legislature, which was elected in July. “It should be the lower house who should start the discussion again and not in accordance with the previous law that got stuck, since that law does not comply with what is defined by the court.”
“The unfortunate thing is that it will be with new legislators,” she says, explaining that only some of the reelected lawmakers had a reasonable stance on cannabis legalization while others did not, such as Cinthya Lopez Castro who said edibles give you a four-day trip.
“New allies of the regulation [of cannabis] will have to be identified,” Tagle says.
Getting permission to consume cannabis legally is close to impossible, activists say
The court appointed the Federal Commission for the Protection Against Sanitary Risk (COFEPRIS) to be the regulator of permits for consuming weed legally and for sourcing cannabis seeds.
But getting permits seems close to impossible, says Rivera who is constantly looking to help people get them.
Anti-crime non-profit organizations such as Mexico Unido Contra la Delincuencia have identified that not only are appointment times close to non-existent, but if someone actually gets an appointment, they don’t get clear information about the process and more barriers arise.
— México Unido (@MUCD) August 6, 2021
According to activists, applicants face problems such as the number of personal document copies required and are told to go to another office outside their city, like in Puebla or Guadalajara, while other people from outside the capital are told they can only do it in Mexico City.
Besides the conversations around permissible use, Rivera says Plantón 420 is also trying to legally change the park’s name where they’ve been protesting for months to include the word “cannabis” on it and make it more official.
Other plans involve starting a mobile version of the Plantón 420 so that the activists’ message reaches all the neighborhoods in the city.