(Washington, DC) – Mexico’s Congress ought to amend the proposed Federal Law for the Regulation of Cannabis to totally decriminalize easy marijuana possession, Human Rights Watch mentioned in the present day. Congress ought to move the amended invoice earlier than the top of this congressional session on April 30, 2021. Passage of the invoice could be a significant step ahead for human rights in Mexico.
On March 10, the House of Deputies passed the invoice, which in its present model would partially legalize and regulate the manufacturing, distribution, and possession of marijuana for private use, and despatched it to the Senate for closing approval. On April 8, Senate Majority Leader Ricardo Monreal introduced that he intended to postpone its debate till September, after the mid-term elections, to make unspecified adjustments to the invoice.
“The prohibition of marijuana has had devastating costs for human rights in Mexico, leaving thousands of people needlessly imprisoned simply for possessing marijuana and exposing countless others to serious abuses at the hands of police,” mentioned José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. “Legalizing marijuana would be an enormous step forward for human rights and Congress should stop postponing this urgent reform.”
Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled in 2018 that prohibiting leisure marijuana use was unconstitutional and ordered Congress to move a reform legalizing leisure use inside 90 days. Since then, nonetheless, the congressional management has repeatedly postponed voting on marijuana reform and has acquired multiple deadline extensions from the court docket. The present deadline is April 30. Senator Monreal mentioned he intends to request an extension till the top of 2021.
The present invoice would permit anybody over the age of 18 to eat marijuana, possess as much as 28g of marijuana, or apply for a license to develop as much as six crops at residence for their very own private use or a license to type a “cannabis association” with as much as 20 members who develop and share marijuana for his or her private use. It would additionally permit corporations or people to use for a license to develop, course of, or promote marijuana for business functions.
However, the invoice consists of some pointless provisions that would expose individuals to abuse, even below the brand new system, Human Rights Watch mentioned. Under the invoice, easy possession of greater than 28g of marijuana – that’s, possession for private use, not distribution – would stay a prison offense, and anybody in possession of greater than 28g of marijuana, even for private use, may face a advantageous of as much as US$22,000 or up three years in jail, relying on the quantity of marijuana they’re holding.
If police suspect that somebody has greater than 28g of marijuana, they will detain the particular person for as much as 48 hours and switch them over to public prosecutors. Also, to acquire a license to develop marijuana at residence or type a “cannabis association,” customers should agree to permit authorities officers to enter and examine their properties to confirm that they’re complying with the phrases of the license.
Mexican police frequently torture, abuse, and extort individuals they cease and detain, no matter whether or not they have dedicated against the law. In the most recent survey of detained people performed by Mexico’s statistical company, the National Institute for Statistics and Geography (INEGI), in 2016, almost two thirds had been overwhelmed or hit throughout arrest, greater than a 3rd had been choked or waterboarded, and a fifth got electrical shocks.
Criminalizing the consumption and possession of medicine for private use infringes on ideas of autonomy that underlie all rights and is per se a disproportionate response to personal conduct, Human Rights Watch mentioned. Congress ought to amend the invoice in order that it fully eliminates the crime of straightforward possession of marijuana from Mexican regulation to cut back the danger that customers will face abuses by the hands of police. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador ought to make sure that inspection provisions are enforced in a manner that doesn’t result in pointless or disproportionate punishment or facilitate additional rights violations.
As of 2019, greater than 24,000 individuals had been in jail for drug crimes in Mexico – about 12 p.c of the jail inhabitants, in response to the INEGI. About 40 p.c of them had been charged with or convicted of straightforward drug possession. Detainees in Mexican prisons regularly face violence, overcrowding, lack of access to basic services, lack of medical consideration, and abuses by jail employees.
The invoice features a provision that may permit state and federal jail officers to launch anybody who has been charged with or convicted of an offense that was decriminalized by the reform. Once the invoice comes into impact, the authorities ought to promptly determine all these eligible and launch them instantly and routinely, with out requiring detainees or their households to formally apply for launch, Human Rights Watch mentioned.
The proposed licensing system for the authorized manufacturing, processing, distribution, and sale of marijuana would create new financial alternatives. President López Obrador ought to make sure that the provisions are carried out in an inclusive method that enables economically marginalized populations, together with rural communities in areas the place marijuana has been historically cultivated, to totally take part in and profit from the regulated system, Human Rights Watch mentioned.
Human Rights Watch has beforehand called on governments world wide to reassess their drug insurance policies, because of the excessive human rights prices of the worldwide “war on drugs.” In Mexico, the drug warfare has enhanced the profitability of illicit medicine, fueling the growth of violent organized crime and widespread corruption, interfering with the rule of regulation and resulting in large-scale human rights abuses. The legalization of marijuana wouldn’t, by itself, handle these issues, however it represents a primary essential step towards adopting different approaches to drug coverage, Human Rights Watch mentioned.
“Drug policies that emphasize criminalization have led to countless human rights abuses and widespread corruption in Mexico,” Vivanco mentioned. “This bill should serve as an important first step toward re-evaluating Mexico’s approach to drug policy more broadly.”