Members of the pot club that won the right to grow and use marijuana in Mexico through a historic Supreme Court ruling on November 4 have no intention of ever lighting up a joint.
The group, the Society for Responsible and Tolerant Personal Consumption (or SMART in Spanish) requested a cannabis-use permit, then fought the Mexican government’s denial for more than two years, because it believes legalizing drugs is Mexico’s best hope for reducing crime.
According to Armando Santacruz, a SMART member, drug trafficking and the fight against it are the main factors in violence and corruption in Mexico.
“It was the elephant in the room,” says Santacruz, who is also co-founder of Mexico United Against Delinquency, a non-profit that promotes the rule of law and justice. “We had to find a way to address it.”
But experts say it will take much more than legalizing marijuana to curb drug-related crime. Pot is no longer a key product for drug cartels. The local marijuana market is small—only 1.2 percent of Mexicans between the ages of 12 and 65 use the drug, according to a 2011 national survey. And although Mexico remains one of the world’s top marijuana producers and a big exporter to the United States, pot legalization in several U.S. states is displacing Mexican weed.