Nation & World

Mexico edges closer to legalizing marijuana use — but not sales

Two Supreme Court decisions in Mexico allowing recreational pot use don’t mean the country is any closer to commercial sales of the type that have created a booming industry in Canada and some U.S. states.

The rulings, combined with three similar cases between 2015 and 2017, establish that prohibiting marijuana use is unconstitutional. Under Mexican law, five rulings set a precedent that can be applied more broadly.

On the face of it, that might sound like good news to North American companies that are jumping into the market with the drug now legal on a federal level in Canada and in nine U.S. states.

They probably shouldn’t get their hopes up too high about Mexico, though. The court decision doesn’t permit commercial sales, and the government can still regulate how people use it. What’s more, the decisions don’t actually change laws that forbid its use, instead only establishing that anyone charged with usage should be able to get the case dismissed.

Mexican authorities rarely pursue individuals for pot use (notwithstanding the occasional spring-breaker shakedown), instead focusing their attention on bigger fish — specifically the country’s notorious drug gangs. On paper, the rulings may seem like a victory for marijuana legalization. But not much has changed in practice.

–With assistance from Craig Giammona.

To contact the reporter on this story: Amy Stillman in Mexico City at astillman7@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: David Marino at dmarino4@bloomberg.net, Brendan Walsh, Andrew Dunn

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