Earlier this year, on June 3, a Federal Tribunal granted Mexican actor and director Gael García Bernal a legal protection that allows him to use and grow marijuana for “ludic or recreational purposes.” It was, as the Chicuarotes director explained soon thereafter, a symbolic victory more than anything else. Pot, he joked as he presented his most recent directorial effort, isn’t really his thing. But the point was to establish a kind of legal precedent that makes way for the drug decriminalization he’s long fought for in his native Mexico.
“I think we’ve reached a point of agreement where we understand that much of prohibition has generated the opposite of improving health. The environment, the civil framework in which we live, has generated a lot of violence,” he explained. It’s a line he’s used time and time again to explain why he supports decriminalizing drugs. For him, it’s long been an argument less about supporting its use as it has been about how its brutal criminalization has engendered a War on Drugs that’s had disastrous effects on either side of the border. Moreover, it’s incarcerated an inordinate amount of people for nonviolent drug offenses that barely warrant their harsh sentencing.
Over the years, the outspoken actor and activist has made his pledge to support decriminalization and legalization quite clear. In 2011, for example, he was part of Fernando Grostein Andrade and Cosmo Feilding-Mellen’s Brazilian documentary Breaking the Taboo, which was set out to uncover the failure of the UN-sanctioned War on Drugs. The following year, he attended an international conference focused on legalizing marijuana (and gave, in the process, an instant-classic interview while high), making it clear that this was a cause near and dear to his heart. Then, in 2013, he — alongside Diego Luna and over sixty prominent Mexican artists, politicians, intellectuals and attorneys — signed a petition arguing that “Mexico has paid a high price for applying the punitive policy of prohibition” and calling instead for marijuana legalization.
In the years since, the Golden Globe winner has made a habit of voicing his support for legalization and decriminalization measures, which have stalled in Mexico despite some recent traction. Indeed, in 2017, after a two-year legal battle Congress legalized weed for medicinal purposes. But, despite promises to consider legalizing other drugs, president Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s government revoked a decision that allowed the sale of cannabis-derived products in drugstores. García Bernal’s recent legal victory, which, as you can see below, has clearly been perhaps more than a decade-in-the-making has the chance to push legalization measures forward, proving that the Y tu mamá también star is as committed an activist as he is an actor.