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Ruling By Mexico's High Court Affirms 4 Citizens' Right To Grow Marijuana

In a decision that could open the door to legalizing marijuana in Mexico, that country's supreme court said Wednesday that four plaintiffs should be allowed to grow marijuana for their own use. The four belong to a nonprofit group that hopes to weaken the influence of drug cartels.

The nonprofit, called SMART (Sociedad Mexicana de Autoconsumo Responsable y Tolerante), won a 4-1 ruling Wednesday from the First Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation, according to Televisa News.

In court, the debate over the ruling — which challenged the federal General Health Act — touched on topics ranging from the right of self-determination to the importance of debating an issue as Mexico is wracked by violence associated with drug cartels.

One minister of the court, Cossio Diaz, called for a serious discussion about Mexico's drug policies, saying that the authorities "for years have done nothing," Milenio reports.

The ruling applies only to the four plaintiffs who are members of SMART; at least one of the group's members say they've never smoked marijuana and don't plan to start, according to a recent interview with CNN Mexico.

Composed of an accountant, two lawyers and an activist, the group was formed to fight a violent criminal drug culture as well as "prohibitionist" policies that they say infringes on human rights.

For now, the court's ruling applies only to the four members of SMART. But other groups or individuals could now pursue those same rights in court — or they could simply join the organization. After Wednesday's ruling, the group used its Facebook page to thank people for their interest in joining, and said they'll soon announce seven projects around Mexico, along with enrolment information.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.