Mexico could be one step closer to marijuana legalization after a breakthrough ruling will grant individuals the right to grow and use the drug for personal use.
“Absolute prohibition is excessive and doesn’t protect the right to health,” Justice Olga Sánchez Cordero said, the Washington Post reports.
President Peña Nieto tweeted in response to the 4-1 court ruling in favor, adding that the “decision will open up debate over improved regulations to prohibit drug use, a public health issue.”
El criterio expresado este día, abrirá un debate sobre la mejor regulación para inhibir el consumo de drogas, un tema de salud pública.
— Enrique Peña Nieto (@EPN) November 4, 2015
As the War on Drugs rages on across Latin America, with coca crop production back on the up and U.S. involvement looking to disband armed gangs and destroy smuggling routes the ruling has come at a difficult time.
Uruguay has also received international media attention for its increasingly lax marijuana cultivation laws, with pharmacies set to sell small quantities of the drug to those that need it. While Chile gathered its first medicinal crop of the drug this year.
Although personal possession of small quantities of marijuana has been legal for just over a decade, its cultivation and sale has been outlawed in Mexico since 1926.
Legalization has gained momentum in recent months after eight-year-old Graciela Elizalde was the first Mexican to receive legal authorization to confirm marijuana as part of her treatment against epilepsy.
“Every country in the world signed up to a treaty that prescribed a prohibitionist and criminalized approach to dealing with drugs that was one-sided,” said John Walsh, a senior associate at the Washington Office on Latin America, a human rights group. “That basic response doesn’t work anymore.” The New York Times reports.
But not all Mexicans are happy with the ruling, in fact an October poll from the Parametría firm found 77 percent of Mexicans opposed to legalizing marijuana, with just 20 percent in favor according to the Guardian.
Many users fear that legalization will only worsen stigma behind violence and drug use, despite marijuana’s known medicinal benefits.
It would appear Mexico still lags some way behind its Southern neighbors.