Mexican NGO seeks permission to use marijuana with recreational purposes

For the first time in Mexico's history, the issue of legalizing marijuana with recreational purposes will be discussed at the Supreme Court from a human rights perspective thanks to an appeal filed by Sociedad Mexicana de Autconsumo Responsable y Tolerante.

Lisa Sánchez, Pablo Girault and Armando Santacruz, founders of the Mexican Society for Responsible and Tolerant Self-Consumption (Sociedad Mexicana de Autoconsumo Responsable y Tolerante - SMART). (Photo: Yadin Xolalpa / EL UNIVERSAL)
English 28/10/2015 12:09 Cristina Pérez-Stadelmann Actualizada 14:06

The citizens who filed an appeal before Mexico's Supreme Court of Justice (SCJN) to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes say that doing so "would prevent those who buy it from having contact with organized crime. Most of them have no interest in harder drugs, but dealers do have an interest in making them try other drugs, and being in contact with them involves a risk that could be avoided if they could grow their own marijuana and smoke it.”

Lisa Sánchez, Pablo Girault and Armando Santacruz, founders of the Mexican Society for Responsible and Tolerant Self-Consumption (Sociedad Mexicana de Autoconsumo Responsable y Tolerante - SMART), signatories of the appeal discussed today at the Supreme Court, said in an interview with EL UNIVERSAL that they “seek protection and that the human right of freedom of choice to plant, carry and use marijuana is respected."

"Certainly one of the objectives is to reduce violence related to drug dealing, but there are other objectives that could be achieved by regulating marijuana instead of the current punitive policy," they added.

On October 28, 2015 Minister Arturo Zaldívar Lelo de Larrea presented to the plenary of the First Chamber of the Supreme Court his proposal on the right to produce cannabis for personal use with recreational purposes. The appeal was filed by SMART to obtain a permission from the Ministry of Health to use marijuana for fun, which brought the issue up for debate once again. However, the debate was postponed until next week to analyze it in detail.

Armando Santacruz, also a founding director of Mexico United Against Crime (México Unido contra la Delincuencia), said that removing marijuana from the illegal market would prevent violence caused by the fight to control its sale.

"We must stop imprisoning people arrested while carrying or using marijuana, because 60% of the inmates in federal prisons are convicted for drug crimes.” He added that “imprisoning consumers can turn them into criminals, because hardly anyone spends years in a Mexican jail without leaving with a PhD in crime."

If SMART wins the legal battle, the organization could become a safe haven for a large number of people suffering from diseases whose symptoms can be relieved with a controlled and informed use of marijuana and its derivatives.

The organization added that marijuana should be legalized primarily for medical reasons, because it represents a therapeutic option that, well regulated, can help people who suffer complex and painful conditions.

Lisa Sánchez, coordinator of the Latin American Program for the Reform of Drug Policy of Mexico United Against Crime, said that the debate must be approached “from a different perspective, because it is not a matter of a public policy on security and violence, but to ensure that the human rights of all citizens, fully recognized in our Constitution, are above public policies aimed at protecting individuals from themselves.”

Sánchez explained the importance of the proposal made by Minister Zaldívar is that this is the first time that the issue is being discussed from a human rights perspective.

She added that users should be destigmatized.