Monday, June 22, 2009

Mexico to decriminalize minor drug possession

The Mexican legistlature has voted to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of drugs ranging from marijuana to heroin to methamphetamine. Supporters of the measure say that if Mexico is to rid itself of the large-scale drug violence sweeping the country, it must use its resources wisely - and that means going after the large-scale producers and distributors.

President Calderon supported the legislation much like his predecessor Vincente Fox - but President Fox caved in to pressure from the Bush Administration and withdrew his support for the measure.
"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."
Critics of the plan argue that decriminalizing drugs is giving in to the narcoterrorists who have left a bloody swath across the country over the past decade. These critics worry that Mexico will become a Latin American version of Amsterdam complete with tourists coming in to satisfy their drug habits.

The plan would remove criminal penalities for the possession of up to 5 grams of marijuana, 500 milligrams of cocaine, 50 milligrams of heroin and 40 milligrams of methamphetamine.

Calderon's initial proposal called for mandatory treatment for those who wished to avoid jail time but the bill was changed to call for treatment to be encouraged.

While I understand the need to make better use of limited resources, I also understand that drug trafficking is big business because of the demand for drugs and that any policy designed to eradicate illegal drugs must attack both the supply and demand sides of the equation.

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