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Armando Santacruz (left) and Pablo Girault (right), members of SMART. (Photo: Archive/El Universal)

The four Mexicans who don't smoke marijuana but wanted freedom of choice

05/11/2015
13:09
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Two lawyers, a social activist and an accountant that do not smoke marijuana and are not interested in doing so were behind the decision made yesterday by Mexico's Supreme Court of Justice.

Two lawyers, a social activist and an accountant that do not smoke marijuana and are not interested in doing so were behind the decision made yesterday by Mexico's Supreme Court of Justice to give them permission to use the drug with recreational purposes. The four are members of the Sociedad Mexicana de Autoconsumo Responsible Tolerant (SMART) - Mexican Society for Responsible and Tolerant Self-Consumption.

In a historic session, the First Chamber of the Supreme Court decided, with four votes in favor and one against, to declare unconstitutional five articles of the General Health Law prohibiting the Ministry of Health to authorize the personal consumption of marijuana for fun.

Josefina Ricaño Nava, one of the promoters of the appeal, chairs the NGO México Unido contra la Delincuencia (Mexico United Against Crime). The 63-year-old grandmother says that the decision constitutes a breakthrough in the defense of human rights.

"Banning the use of cannabis has only brought destruction, death, violence and injustice. A young boy ends up in jail for carrying a small amount of marijuana and once there, he becomes corrupted. What we need is a real prevention campaign against drug use. We are not advocates of marijuana. I will not plant it or use it, neither do we want children to use drugs; but adults should be able to decide and that their rights are respected," she explained.

Armando Santacruz, another promoter of the initiative, said that he is not interested in his own personal consumption but in opening the legal framework in order to have a more rational drug policy.

The decision "opens the door for others to benefit from it, and forces the legislature to address the problem. The idea is to set a precedent, to open the door for thousands of people to benefit from this decision, and to force the legislature to address the problem and the drug policy in a more rational way. I am not a regular user, neither am I saying that I have not tried it ever. I have children and my habits will not change after this ruling; some of my colleagues in the group have not even tried it. At the same time I believe that using marijuana does not turn you into a rapist of grannies or a cannibal, marijuana has been brutally demonized."

Pablo Girault, ITAM graduate in Accounting and spokesperson of the Rafael Dondé Foundation, said that he was motivated by his “convictions as a Mexican and to fight for a better country. However I have no desire to use cannabis. The point was to reaffirm the liberal state and to approach drugs from a health and not a criminal perspective.”

"We feel very positive that the four ministers endorsed the rights of people to self-determination; this is only the beginning, now the Congress needs to work on a law to properly regulate marijuana consumption."

For Francisco Torres Landa, lawyer, the challenge was to develop a strategy to win the appeal, denied in 2013 by the Federal Commission against Sanitary Risks. He considers that prohibiting drugs is a huge blunder.

"What we did was designing a strategy to have the issue discussed by the judiciary through a procedure to analyze the pros and cons of this policy, and revisit the rights of individuals to use marijuana. Freedom of choice is a fundamental right,” he explained.

"We are not proposing that drugs are sold as candy at the supermarket. We want citizens to be informed about the risks and to be free to decide, with education, prevention campaigns and information. The prohibitionist policy has not done any good, on the contrary: it has led to more than 100,000 dead, 70,000 missing and 270,000 displaced. This ban has created a billionaire business for criminals that challenge the state and corrupt institutions while citizens continue to experience violence. I can assure you that I will not use marijuana; however, I do not want the State to tell me to do so, but to be able to decide,” Torres added.

 

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