Is smoking weed a human right? Days after voters in the US state of Ohio rejected a proposal to legalise cannabis for recreational use, Mexico has ruled that smoking pot is a fundamental human right.
The Mexican Supreme Court ruled by 4 to 1 that banning the consumption and cultivation of cannabis for personal use violates the human right to free development of one’s personality.
The ruling only applies to the four individuals who brought the case to court, but widespread legalisation may follow.
“This vote by Mexico’s Supreme Court is extraordinary for two reasons,” says Hannah Hetzer of the US Drug Policy Alliance, which campaigns for the relaxation of drug laws. “First, it’s being argued on human-rights grounds, and secondly, it’s taking place in one of the countries that has suffered most from the war on drugs,” she says.
Several other countries have moved towards more lenient laws on cannabis use, but none have done so solely on the basis of human rights. Most, like Ireland, which in early November moved towards legalising supervised heroin use and possible decriminalisation of other drugs, have cited health, compassionate and economic grounds.
Four US states – Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon – have legalised the personal use of cannabis and Canada is expected to follow suit. Bills to legalise cannabis for medical use are under debate in Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Costa Rica.
“We’re seeing a new rationality in relation to drug laws,” says David Nutt of Imperial College London, who is a former UK government adviser on drugs. “At last some countries have the courage to admit that the ‘war on drugs’ is futile and does more harm than good.”
Image credit: Omar Franco Pérez Reyes/Demotix/PA