Skip to comments.Mexico to legalize drugs, Measure decriminalizes personal use
Posted on 04/28/2006 11:37:45 PM PDT by South40
MEXICO CITY Mexico's Congress approved a bill Friday decriminalizing possession of small quantities of drugs for personal use including cocaine and even heroin raising potential questions about joint U.S.-Mexican anti-narcotics operations.
The only step remaining was the signature of President Vicente Fox, whose office indicated he would sign the bill, which Mexican officials hope will allow police to focus on large-scale trafficking operations rather than minor drug busts.
Mayor: Mexico drug measure 'appallingly stupid'
List of maximum allowable drug quantities approved for personal use by Mexico's Congress:
Opium (raw, to be smoked) 5 grams
Heroin, 25 milligrams
Marijuana 5 grams
Cocaine 500 milligrams
LSD .015 milligrams
MDA 200 milligrams
MDMA (ecstasy) 200 milligrams
Mescaline: 1 gram
Peyote: 1 kilogram
Psilocybin (concentrate, pure, active ingredient) 100 milligrams
Hallucinogenic mushrooms (raw, off the farm): 250 milligrams
Amphetamines: 100 milligrams
Dexamphetamines: 40 milligrams
Phencyclidine (PCP, or Angel Dust) 7 milligrams
Methamphetamines: 200 milligrams
Nalbuphine (synthetic opiate): 10 milligrams
Drug policies of selected countries based on information from the New York-based Drug Policy Alliance and governments:
Mexico: Under a measure approved by the Mexican Congress, small quantities of drugs for personal use would be legal, including cocaine and heroin. The office of President Vicente Fox has indicated he will sign the bill.
The Netherlands: Possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use has been decriminalized. The sale of cannabis is technically illegal, but operators of coffee shops avoid prosecution by selling no more than 5 grams per person in any one transaction, not selling the drug to those under age 18, not advertising drugs or selling hard drugs.
Colombia: possession of narcotics is legal for individual consumption: 20 grams of marijuana, and one gram of cocaine and heroin.
Canada: Although marijuana is still illegal in Canada, 2001 regulations allow the use of marijuana by people with serious illnesses. A 2003 court ruling forced the government to sell the drug to certified medical marijuana patients. Canada is also preparing to allow reduced sentences for possession of small amounts of marijuana and is evaluating heroin maintenance programs.
United States: Federal drug policy is centered on interdiction, arrest, prosecution and incarceration of users and distributors of controlled substances. Some new state laws, however, take a more liberal approach to drug policy.
Singapore: Singapore's sentencing guidelines call for the death penalty for trafficking more than 15 grams of heroin or 500 grams of cannabis.
This law gives police and prosecutors better legal tools to combat drug crimes that do so much damage to our youth and children, said Fox's spokesman, Ruben Aguilar.
If Fox signs the measure and it becomes law, it could strain the two countries' cooperation in anti-drug efforts and increase the vast numbers of vacationing students who visit Mexico.
Oscar Aguilar, a Mexico City political analyst who is not related to the president's spokesman, said Fox appeared almost certain to sign the law his office proposed it, and his party supports it and that he had apparently been betting that it would not draw much notice.
That's probably why they (the Senate) passed it the way they did, in the closing hours of the final session, Aguilar said. He's going to sign it ... he's not going to abandon his party two months before the (presidential) election.
U.S. officials scrambled to come up with a response to the bill.
The United States and Mexico have a strong history of counternarcotics cooperation, and the Fox administration has taken a firm stand against illegal drug cultivation, trafficking and abuse, said Janelle Hironimus, a State Department spokeswoman. She said the department was trying to get more information about the measure.
One U.S. diplomat who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly said any effort to decriminalize illegal drugs would not be helpful.
The bill, passed in the early morning hours by Mexico's Senate on a 53-26 vote with one abstention, has already been approved in the lower house of Congress. It also stiffens penalties for trafficking and possession of drugs even small quantities by government employees or near schools, and maintains criminal penalties for drug sales.
The bill says criminal charges will no longer be brought for possession of up to 25 milligrams of heroin, 5 grams of marijuana (about one-fifth of an ounce, or about four joints), or 0.5 grams of cocaine the equivalent of about 4 lines, or half the standard street-sale quantity (though half-size packages are becoming more common).
No charges will be brought against ... addicts or consumers who are found in possession of any narcotic for personal use, according to the Senate bill, which also lays out allowable quantities for an array of other drugs, including LSD, ecstasy and amphetamines.
Some of the amounts are eye-popping: Mexicans would be allowed to possess more than two pounds of peyote, the button-sized hallucinogenic cactus used in some native Indian religious ceremonies.
Mexican law now leaves open the possibility of dropping charges against people caught with drugs if they are considered addicts and if the amount is the quantity necessary for personal use. The new bill drops the addict requirement automatically allowing any consumers to have drugs and sets out specific allowable quantities.
Mexican officials declined to explain how the law would work including whether drug use in public would be tolerated, or discouraged by other means.
The law was defended by Mexican legislators and greeted with glee by U.S. legalization advocates. We can't close our eyes to this reality, said Sen. Jorge Zermeno, of Fox's conservative National Action Party. We cannot continue to fill our jails with people who have addictions.
Ethan Nadelmann, director of the New York-based Drug Policy Alliance, said the bill removed a huge opportunity for low-level police corruption. In Mexico, police often release people detained for minor drug possession, in exchange for bribes.
Selling all these drugs would remain illegal under the proposed law, unlike the Netherlands, where the sale of marijuana for medical use is legal and it can be bought with a prescription in pharmacies. While Dutch authorities look the other way regarding the open sale of cannabis in designated coffee shops something Mexican police seem unlikely to do the Dutch have zero tolerance for heroin and cocaine. In both countries, commercial growing of marijuana is outlawed.
In Colombia, a 1994 court ruling decriminalized personal possession of small amounts of cocaine, heroin and other drugs.
The effects in Mexico could be significant, given that the country is rapidly becoming a drug-consuming nation as well as a shipment point for traffickers, and given the number of U.S. students who flock to border cities or resorts like Cancun and Acapulco on vacation.
This is going to increase addictions in Mexico, said Ulisis Bon, a drug treatment expert in Tijuana, where heroin use is rampant. A lot of Americans already come here to buy medications they can't get up there ... Just imagine, with heroin.
¡Silbido de bala Libertarian!
Mexico has LAWS?
People just thought that Natalie Holloway had it rough in Aruba...now Mexico's beach parties are going to have peyote-charged drinks for the bikini-wearing coeds on Spring Break!
The laws only apply to those who can't afford to pay off the police.
"If Fox signs the measure and it becomes law, it could strain the two countries' cooperation in anti-drug efforts and increase the vast numbers of vacationing students who visit Mexico."
If the US government had any brains, it would do the same thing.
¡Ningunas fronteras, drogas legalizadas!
So two pounds of buttons represents hundreds of acres of de-seeded cacti that take around twenty years to produce a seed set. Mexico effectively okayed the killing off of this species for the sake of short term profit for those dealing the buttons.
Compare that to our government that regularly encroaches on private properties and businesses to "protect" species that are often misidentified, more numerous than known or are just plain pests.
Finally,I agree with Mexico!
Legalize everything, then the crime rate will go down and we can all live in serenity and peace.....Pendejos are in most of the worlds governments. They seem to have concentrated south of the border.
Oh Great. Now the Mexicano Crimealiens will be here insisting that the drug laws of the United States do not apply to them since no laws of the United States apply to them.
NAFTA or War on drugs... which will fall first?
LOL. Now all the libertarian's bitching about Mexico are going to want to move there. I'll tell you what, those Mexicans really understand how to limit the influence of the gubmint.
Maybe it'll actually be a good thing for the US and even Canada - draw all the heavy dopers down to Mexico.
Hmmmm. Did they also change the acceptable bribe limits for local officials and policia?
This i sno big deal- the laws in Mexico mean NOTHING. They'll arrest you for whatever they feel like, if the cops want some 'walking around money'.
I don't see any complaining about open borders from the official LP- they don't believe in borders anyway.
One of a few reasons why I don't officially support those clowns, although I do hold some libertarian principles.