06-21-2009, 01:38 PM
Blue Crack Addict
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: A far distance down.
Local Time: 09:33 PM
Mexico to decriminalize drug use - Mexican cities to become Latin Amsterdams???
Could Mexican cities become Latin Amsterdams, flooded by drug users seeking penalty-free tokes and toots?
Los Angeles Times: Mexico moves quietly to decriminalize minor drug use
Mexico moves quietly to decriminalize minor drug use
President Calderon is set to sign the law, but some fear that letting off users caught with limited amounts of drugs will increase drug use and encourage 'drug tourists' from the U.S.
By Tracy Wilkinson
June 21, 2009
Reporting from Mexico City — Could Mexican cities become Latin Amsterdams, flooded by drug users seeking penalty-free tokes and toots?
That is the fear, if somewhat overstated, of some Mexican officials, especially in northern border states that serve as a mecca for underage drinkers from the United States.
The anxiety stems from the Mexican legislature's quiet vote to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and other drugs, an effort that in the past proved controversial.
There's been less protest this time, in part because there hasn't been much publicity.
Some critics have suggested that easing the punishment for drug possession sends the wrong message while President Felipe Calderon is waging a bloody war against major narcotics traffickers. The battle between law enforcement authorities and drug suspects has claimed more than 11,000 lives since he took office in late 2006.
But it was Calderon who proposed the decriminalization legislation.
His reasoning: It makes sense to distinguish between small-time users and big-time dealers, while re-targeting major crime-fighting resources away from the consumers and toward the dealers and their drug lord bosses.
"The important thing is . . . that consumers are not treated as criminals," said Rafael Ruiz Mena, secretary general of the National Institute of Penal Sciences. "It is a public health problem, not a penal problem."
The legislation was approved at the height of a swine flu outbreak that dominated the public's, and the world's, attention. Meeting at times behind closed doors, the lower and upper houses of Congress passed the bill in the last days of April. It now awaits Calderon's signature.
The bill says users caught with small amounts -- 5 grams of marijuana, 500 milligrams of cocaine -- clearly intended for "personal and immediate use" will not be criminally prosecuted. They will be told of available clinics, and encouraged to enter a rehabilitation program.
Up to 40 milligrams of methamphetamine, a synthetic and especially harmful drug, is permitted under the legislation, as is up to 50 milligrams of heroin.
In May 2006, then-President Vicente Fox, of the same right-wing party as Calderon, vetoed a similar bill that he initially had supported. He backed down only under pressure from the Bush administration, which complained that decriminalization for even small amounts could increase use.