I heard weed is now legal in Mexico and Canada! Is it true?
IT'S NEARLY TRUE. Canada has a medical marijuana program and a new prime minister who has vowed to start recreational legalization "right away." That gentleman's name is Justin Trudeau. In Mexico, the possession and use of recreational weed is now completely legal—for four people. Allow me to explain.
Canada. Our neighbors to the north have had a medical marijuana program in place for a couple of years. In 2014, Health Canada began licensing private companies to produce pot for medical users. Some of those companies have gone public since then, and you can buy their stocks. They are all penny stocks at present, which means you can generally buy shares for less than $5, and some of them are probably pump-and-dump schemes. But you can buy them.
Assuming Canada does legalize weed, it will probably take another couple of years to build out the program. Someone has to draft a bill, which must pass through a couple of chambers of legislature. Smart people seem confident that these things will happen, and national polling for legalizing and taxing pot is high. The way things are trending, Canadians will probably legalize recreational weed before the US does. (Don't sweat it.)
In Mexico, conversely, popular support for legalization is low. Still, Mexico's Supreme Court ruled 4-1 last week that outlawing the possession and use of marijuana violates fundamental human rights. Specifically, four plaintiffs prevailed by arguing that smoking pot is covered under the right of "free development of one's personality," as enshrined in La Constitución. One of the justices wrote that "the responsible decision taken to experiment with the effects of this substance—whatever personal harm it might do—belongs within the autonomy of the individual, protected by their freedom to develop themselves."
Because of the way Mexico's Supreme Court cases work, the ruling does not immediately become the law of the land. For that to occur, the court would have to issue similar rulings for four additional individuals or groups, and it is unclear if anything like that is on the way. Seeing as how Mexico's the enforcement epicenter of the War on Drugs, it would be remarkable. We shall see.
None of this is NAFTA-level stuff, and your best bet is still to buy local. However, the conversation in North America is clearly changing when it comes to cannabis. Whether its use is characterized as a fundamental human right, a medical choice, or a recreational option, the continent is increasingly turning away from criminalization and determining how marijuana legalization should work. Things are changing fast.
Send your cannabis legal questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.