If passed, Mexico will join Canada and Uruguay in a short but growing list of countries that have legalized marijuana in America, adding new momentum to the legalization movement in the region. In the United States, Senate Democrats have also vowed to lift the federal drug ban this year. After the April 30, 2021 deadline, the Senate had 10 days to request an extension from Mexico`s Supreme Court. Before the deadline, however, some lawmakers decided to call for an extraordinary session of parliament after the June elections.  On June 10, 2021, the Supreme Court decided to add the “declaration of unconstitutionality” to its list for the June 28 vote. The court voted in an 8-3 decision to legalize adult marijuana use.  Do these three columns (in which I assessed the likely impact of Mexican cannabis legalization on civil liberties, law enforcement, criminal violence, marginalized producers, government revenues, and the environment) mean that Mexico should not legalize cannabis? No. Some forms of cannabis legalization are a growing trend around the world and Mexico has the right to attempt such regulation. However, they imply that the benefits that proponents of cannabis legalization in Mexico are likely to be much smaller than expected. So, if legalization is unlikely to prevent eradication (unless law enforcement does not touch illegal cultivation), will it defuse criminal groups or reduce their propensity for violence? Again, the answers are: highly unlikely. Mexico has already experienced the shock of legalizing the system – when California and other U.S.
states legalized recreational cannabis. These regulatory changes in the U.S. have displaced both poor illegal weed growers in Mexico and criminal groups smuggling marijuana into the U.S. If Mexico legalizes cannabis, the black market for the drug could slow down in dribs and drabs. The cartels would likely continue to operate – over the past decade they have increased their production of methamphetamine and heroin to compensate for losses due to legal cannabis – but their results would still suffer a blow as their revenue opportunities diminish. The size of the ongoing illicit market may also overshadow legal production. In Colorado, many illegal growers grow hundreds or thousands of plants. Stanislaus County in California, for example, has a cap on 61 commercial cannabis licenses. Yet more than four years after Proposition 64 legalized marijuana, the county is estimated to have between 1,100 and 1,500 illicit cannabis grow sites, though enforcement has been intense.
Between 2019 and the first half of 2020, the county sheriff`s department destroyed nearly 100,000 illegal cannabis plants outdoors and indoors and seized tens of thousands of pounds of processed marijuana. In Siskiyou County, 130,000 illegal cannabis plants, approximately 26,000 pounds of processed marijuana, and 13 illegal firearms were seized in raids and 123 arrests were made in 2020. In total, more than 1.1 million cannabis plants and 20.5 tons of processed cannabis were seized at 455 cultivation sites in California last year. Cannabis has been illegal since 1920, personal possession of small amounts was decriminalized in 2009, and the medical use of THC content of less than one percent was legalized in 2017. Mexican lawmakers have passed a bill to legalize recreational cannabis, but in a country still plagued by a deadly war on drugs, the proposal has proven divisive. On October 31, 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that the law banning the recreational use of cannabis in Mexico was unconstitutional. As this was the fifth time the Court had ruled in this way, it set a binding precedent for the entire judicial system of the country. The effect of the decision was that the law prohibiting cannabis remained in force, but it no longer had to be enforced, as anyone could cite the verdict and demand that their charges be dropped.
The decision ordered the Mexican government to officially legalize cannabis within the next 90 days.     On April 17, 2020, the Supreme Court extended the deadline to December 15, 2020.  Security experts agree that the practical impact of the violence law is likely to be minimal: with 15 U.S. states now legalizing marijuana, they argue, cultivation has become a relatively small part of Mexico`s drug trade. with cartels focusing on more profitable products such as fentanyl and methamphetamines. On June 28, 2021, the Supreme Court voted 8-3 to legalize adult-use marijuana under Mexican law.  However, federal and state criminal laws remain in effect until the Mexican Congress takes steps to resolve inconsistencies and remove criminal language. No legal structure has been created to allow the legal sale of marijuana, nor are there provisions for commercial growth and production. Meanwhile, those detained for sale or possession have no way to release them.
All this awaits legislative action to bring Mexican laws into line with Supreme Court rulings. Unlike in the United States, a Supreme Court decision does not automatically result in the repeal of all existing laws. Congress has had years to act, but it has not yet done so successfully.  The U.S. states where recreational cannabis use has all been legalized have all had to deal with the continued existence of large black markets for cannabis and create significant resources to combat it.