Supreme Court unveils awaited rulingTuesday, August 25, 2009
SC rules personal marijuana use punishment unconstitutional
In an eight-page writ unveiled today, the Supreme Court said it is unconstitutional to punish marijuana consumers, if that action does not harm third parties. The decision would put an end to a long-term debate, in which users had claimed that the incumbent drug law violated privacy rights.
However, the ruling of the Court would not mean a complete decriminalization of marijuana consumption as liberalizationists had expected, as the statement reached by an unanimous vote, specifies that only adults would be allowed to use marijuana as long as they do it in a private environment, and without affecting third parties.
The ruling also urged "all the state powers to implement a policies against the drug illegal trafficking and to adopt preventive health measures." Congress is thus expected to introduce amendments to current drug laws, following the new guidelines set by the Court.
The government has backed the initiative to decriminalize drug consumers, as it would allow the government to focus its policies on drug trafficking networks instead of users. Cabinet Chief Aníbal Fernández said the decriminalization would allow users "to be treated as addicts instead of criminals."
Cabinet Chief Aníbal Fernández dismissed that the decriminalization move might affect drug-fighting policies. "The government will continue with its restless fight against drug trafficking," he said, and added the ruling of the court allowing the use of drugs in private places "does not decriminalize anything."
The Cabinet Chief today said the expected ruling would "mean the end of the repressive policies of the government against users."
The Supreme Court will rule on the famous "Arriola case." Sebastián Arriola and Mónica Vázquez were found guilty of drug trafficking. The highest tribunal confirmed the ruling, but it is now expected to overrule charges of drug possession in the case.