A Historic Ruling From A Mexican Court Allows Two Petitioners To Use Cocaine

On August 21, the nonprofit organization Mexico United Against Crime (MUCD) announced a “historic step” toward its objective of ending the “war on drugs” in Mexico. A Mexico City court has ruled that the Federal Commission for Protection against Health Risks (COFERPIS) must allow two petitioners to use cocaine. According to Lisa Sanchez, general-director of MUCD, lawyers for the anonymous petitioners convinced the court that adults in Mexico should have the right to use controlled substances. Her organization helped the petitioners file the lawsuit to encourage the Mexican government to “construct alternative drug policies” and “redirect its security efforts and better address public health.”

The ruling represents the first time in Mexican history that a court has ruled in favor of opponents of cocaine prohibition. However, the petitioners are still forbidden from selling or distributing cocaine, and the ruling will not actually take effect unless a higher tribunal approves it. The leaders of COFERPIS say their agency lacks the power to authorize the petitioners to use a drug which remains illegal, so they have refused to comply with the court’s order.

Cocaine Trafficking And The Mexican War On Drugs

The Mexican “war on drugs” became a true war in 2006 when the Mexican government deployed the military to fight drug traffickers. Mexico is home to many violent and powerful drug cartels, and the country serves as a conduit through which traffickers transport illegal drugs from Central and South America to lucrative markets in the United States. Tragically, the ongoing battle between drug lords and the Mexican government has cost thousands of lives. Since 2006, about 150,000 people in Mexico have been murdered, according to a 2018 report from the United States Congressional Research Service. In 2018 alone, Mexico suffered a record-breaking 33,341 homicides. Drug traffickers commit many homicides in Mexico as they take hostages and fight the authorities and rival cartels for territory. More than 17,000 homicides have already occurred in Mexico this year.

In response to the tremendous bloodshed that Mexico has suffered in the past decade, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has expressed his support for ending Mexico’s long-standing “prohibitionist approach” to drug abuse. Opponents of the “war on drugs” say that it has only worsened the problem of violence.

Mexico has been focusing on ‘fighting’ a violent war against these substances for the past 13 years and the results couldn’t be worse: violence has tripled, drug consumption continues to be on the rise and the number of criminal organizations profiting from the illegality of drugs has also increased significantly.

- Lisa Sanchez, MUCD general-director

In the past two years, Mexican authorities have relaxed restrictions on marijuana, which is now legal in a growing number of U.S. states. In fact, the Mexican Supreme Court ruled in 2018 that the government cannot legally ban adults from using recreational marijuana. However, some legal experts warn that decriminalizing cocaine would not stop the violence in Mexico because cocaine trafficking to the United States, where the drug remains illegal, would likely continue.

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Nathan Yerby

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  • Nathan Yerby is a writer and researcher. He is a graduate of the University of Central Florida.

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