In a 4-1 decision, the Mexican Supreme Court took a step towards possible marijuana legalization on Thursday.
Four plaintiffs won their case arguing for the right to hold their marijuana club, the Mexican Society for Responsible and Tolerant Personal Consumption. The Supreme Court declared that in this case, banning the possession, sale and use of marijuana was unconstitutional.
People celebrated by smoking weed outside of the courthouse after the decision was announced.
While the ruling does not legalize the drug, it could be the gateway to its future legalization. Mexican citizens are not as into legalization as Americans—77 percent of Mexicans are opposed to the idea of legal cannabis sale and use, compared to 20 percent who support it, according to Cosmopolitan.
One of the plaintiffs, Armando Santacruz, expressed the idea that marijuana legalization would weaken the power of the Mexican drug cartels.
“Bad regulation is better than whatever regulation El Chapo [the infamous drug lord Joaquin Guzman] and the narcos can provide,” Santacruz said, according to TIME.
John Walsh, senior associate at human rights group Washington Office on Latin America noted that legalization of marijuana in the U.S. would have a similar effect, though in the grand scheme of things it wouldn't be fatal to the cartels.
“In the long run, as the U.S. legalizes marijuana, Mexico is going to have a tough time competing with lawful American suppliers,” Walsh said in an interview with the New York Times. “That doesn’t mean they won’t have a business plan, it’s just that marijuana will be removed from it.”
Just last week, authorities found a super tunnel for smuggling drugs across the border stretching about half a mile between Tijuana and San Diego containing at least 12 tons of illegal marijuana—a value of about $6 million.
Full legalization of the drug would require that the court either have a vote of at least eight out of 11 approving judges, or vote the same way five times. Same-sex marriage in Mexico was legalized following a similar path to the one that marijuana legalization could be on now.