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Perspectives

August 27, 2009
In Mexico, drug legalization is a mixed bag

The Mexican government has decriminalized small amounts of drugs. A person may now carry up to five grams of marijuana without penalty.

In Mexico, a new law has been passed to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of narcotics including marijuana, cocaine, heroin, LSD and crystal meth. Instead of serving jail time, those found with drugs at or under the legal limit will be referred to drug treatment programs.

Sean Goforth of “Foreign Policy Blogs” examines the pros and cons of Mexico’s new law.

The decriminalization of drug use in Mexico is bound to have unintended consequences. Beginning last Friday, possession of small amounts of drugs, including cocaine, heroine, LSD, marijuana and meth, is permitted. Such wholesale legalization is crude, but may prove beneficial to the Mexican economy.

Having up to four joints on you (the legal limit is five grams) isn’t going to have a societal impact. Prosecutions for possession were already non-existent in Mexico. Studies commissioned under the tenure of Gen. Barry McCaffrey, President Clinton’s “Drug Czar”, concluded that marijuana is not a “gateway” drug. It is widely believed not to be addictive, and it is not known to induce violent behavior.

If anything, this law will undercut corruption among local police, as they will no longer be able to hassle those with a joint in order to get a bribe. Still, marijuana is one thing, but should Mexico have legalized cocaine? Crystal meth? Heroine? LSD?

I for one don’t think so. Little good can come of legalizing such powerful and addictive drugs. Drug-related violence may well increase, even if cartel violence decreases, as the desperation of addiction grows in Mexico’s cities and towns.

Portugal decriminalized drug use in 2001 in order to focus on rehabilitation. Mexico, unlike Portugal, does not currently have the facilities to treat a potential surge in drug addiction. The cartels, for their part, will continue to target America as the destination of their product. So if low-level violence and/or addiction-related deaths increase in Mexico, poorly crafted legislation will be to blame.

To read more, see the original post.

The views expressed by contributing bloggers do not reflect the views of Worldfocus or its partners.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user splifr under a Creative Commons license.

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Comments

11 comments

#11

Some common sense at last. Spain legalized drugs
and nothing but good came of it. Noe its the U.S.s
turn. Oh yea that would put to many cops and prison
guards in the unemployment line, silly me.

#10

It may initially appear that this law will boost the Mexican tourism by luring the American Spring Breakers to this new land of unpunished highs. However, the source of the drugs, as opposed to their possession, is what ruins all my hope for that increase in tourism figures. Possession of the drugs is decriminalized, but what about their acquisition?! It is still illegal to buy or sell the drugs. This is perversely putting more power into the hands of the drug gangs. In fact, the drug lords will now engage in an increased level of violent activities in order to secure a bite of the newly created market for drugs: the juris-conscious drug-curious tourists. Moreover, the law states nothing about regulation of drug purity. A few reported cases of overdosed firstimers and I am sure American schools will find a way to prohibit spring breakers to go to Mexico.

#9

What wonderful comments. Common sense and bottom line decisions. Think of the money saved not arresting, prosecuting and housing in for-profit prisons for the average pot user. People who find themselves in legal trouble could be assessed for need of treatment, which could be made available, affordable and covered by insurance. If found operating a vehicle could get a fine and increased insurance rates. Thank-you for your consideration.

#8

A very eloquent Irish writer once asked if water distribution were turned over to criminal gangs the way drugs have been for so long do you even think you would be able to bath in it? Of course not, but drugs are distributed by criminal gangs and whatever toxic or non-toxic components are added to make more profit on an ongoing basis and our hospitals are crammed with kids dying from doses of caustic poisons on a regular basis for no good reason. Legalize and turn over to legitimate business concerns and regulate it for safety sake? You betcha!

#7

Debaters debate the two wars as if Nixon’s civil war on Woodstock Nation didn’t yet run amok. One needn’t travel to China to find indigenous cultures lacking human rights or to Cuba for political prisoners. America leads the world in percentile behind bars, thanks to ongoing persecution of hippies, radicals, and non-whites under banner of the war on drugs. If we’re all about spreading liberty abroad, then why mix the message at home? Peace on the home front would enhance credibility.

The drug czar’s Rx for prison fodder costs dearly, as lives are flushed down expensive tubes. My shaman’s second opinion is that psychoactive plants are God’s gift. In God’s eyes, it’s all good (Gen.1:12). The administration claims it wants to reduce demand for cartel product, but extraditing Canadian seed vendor Marc Emery increases demand. Mr. Emery enables American farmers to steal cartel customers with superior domestic product.

The constitutionality of the CSA (Controlled Substances Act of 1970) derives from an interstate commerce clause. This clause is invoked to finance organized crime, endanger homeland security, and throw good money after bad. Official policy is to eradicate, not tax, the number-one cash crop in the land. America rejected prohibition, but it’s back. Apparently, SWAT teams don’t need no stinking amendment.

Nixon promised the Schafer Commission would support the criminalization of his enemies, but it didn’t. No matter, the witch-hunt was on. No amendments can assure due process under an anti-science law without due process itself. Psychology hailed the breakthrough potential of LSD, until the CSA halted all research. Marijuana has no medical use, period.

The RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993) allows Native American Church members to eat peyote, which functions like LSD. Americans shouldn’t need a specific church membership to obtain their birthright freedom of religion. Denial of entheogen sacrament to any American, for mediation of communion with his or her maker, precludes the free exercise of religious liberty.

Freedom of speech presupposes freedom of thought. The Constitution doesn’t enumerate any governmental power to embargo diverse states of mind. How and when did government usurp this power to coerce conformity? The Mayflower sailed to escape coerced conformity. Legislators who would limit cognitive liberty lack jurisdiction.

Common-law must hold that adults own their bodies. The Founding Fathers decreed that the right to the pursuit of happiness is inalienable. Socrates said to know your self. Lawmakers should not presume to thwart the intelligent design that molecular keys unlock spiritual doors. Persons who appreciate their own free choice of path in life should tolerate seekers’ self-exploration.

Simple majorities in each house could put repeal of the CSA on the president’s desk. The books have ample law on them without the CSA. The usual caveats remain in effect. You are liable for damages when you screw up. Strong medicine requires prescription. Employees can be fired for poor job performance. No harm, no foul; and no excuse, either. Replace the war on drugs with a frugal, constitutional, science-based drugs policy.

#6

why blame the govt. . The blame is on users and the cartels. Each should contribute money to a central source. The cartels should be given a license and it would cost 20% of their income. Think of the huge savings in police time, lawyers, judges and prisons. This might make them all find honest work.

#5

Nixon started the war on drugs and started trade with communist china and communist countries these acts made this country corporate lead communist, it’s all about the money court and law cartel agencys will not get payed if drugs legal do don’t hold you breaths !
I got busted with half a gram of pot when delevering phone books trying to make some money and the fine was 100 dollars and I made 75 dollars doing deleverys, You know I hate cop and courts and think the right to bare arm was not put in the constitution for HUNTING, Constitutional rights say a government that becomes distructive to life liberty and the pursuit of happyness should be abolished through force if nessacary!!

#4

I have been an enemy of recreational drug use (as we currently understand it) dince working in a Substance Abuse facility while taking my Masters in the early 1950’s. I have also been a proponent of legalization. I have come to this eemingly contradictory position as I have keenly watched “history.” As World War II neared an end, the winning protagonists were amply warned that drugs would be a world-wide problem as exposure to more tolerant cultures spread. Governments had two choices:1) Spend infinite sums to build a worldwide police force to treat the problem as a criminal matter, or 2) Spend sensible funds to develop a non-habituating halucinogenci (along the lines of such writers as Huxley and Orwell)that would allow people to “trip.” Trillions have been spent creating the building of the police forces. As near as I can tell, less than a million has been spent to develop alternatives. Perhaps legalization will finally lead to treating the issue as a medical prolem – otherwise ineradicable – and we will finally see some research to develop the “Soma” drugs that may make intelligent use of hallucinogenics a viable alternative to the dangerous oones that exist.

Paul Power
Janesville, Wisconsin

#3

YES!!! I have been saying this for over 30 years. What a waste of our money and resources. We will never win the war on drugs. It is such a black eye and no one sees this. HOw can we have a drug problem coming over the border? With all the terroist programs, nothing should get by. If drugs can get by, what else is getting by. this is such a false security created by our officials.
But back to just the drug issue. I do not nor have I ever taken drugs. And it isn’t that it is illegal that I dont take drugs. And that is the real question or concern that people have, oh if it is legal everyone will be taking drugs. Oh please. Many people dont drink either, and it is legal – so that theory goes down the drain. Everyone should be stupid drunk because drinking is legal, and therefore, if drugs are legal, we will all be dope heads. Get a grip. Let’s make some money on this. Legalize any drug and the black market goes away. The profits go to the manufactures that pay taxes. the drugs are clean and will not kill you like the street one might. There is less crime, less hours used by our police and law enforcers. We win all the way around. Coccaine was legal fifty years ago, other drugs were not illegal even in the 60s. Opium was the drug of choice in the 1800s. Our society lived through all of that and we can easily live through it again. Yes make it legal, tax it, make it safe, save our people, save money in the medical world, in the law enforcement, in the insurance companies with less things being stolden, less people in prison…come on this snowball doesn’t stop!
Get over it.

#2

Mexico is doing a smart thing! I think it would be a wonderful thing for US to do also! When you think of the huge expense of hunting, arresting and convicting minor drug offenders; it certainly becomes a red herring. Our jails are overloaded; our courts are backed up and our coffers are empty; while the true criminals are slipping away because our justice system is so watered down! If we are going to keep taking responsibility over people who are hurting themselves with drugs; we better start by not allowing abortions and then, we could pass laws for eating too much! Let’s let them have their drugs and let them pay us the tax, instead of giving all their money to the dealers who pay no tax.

#1

This is a common misconception brought upon by the prohibitionists, who will lead you to believe the mexican cartels will profit from Cannabis re-legalization. What they don’t tell you is that by regulating, controlling and taxing (at an initial low rate) the cartels loose. The value of Cannabis will drop because of legalization, even with a tax, they will no longer be able to compete because of the high risk fees they and their distributors will impose on to it. Though Cannabis sales will possibly bring in $1.4 billion, if the state passes the Tax, Regulate, and Control Cannabis Act of 2010, it will also legalize Industrial Hemp which will increase revenue for the state coffers and create more jobs giving the state economy a huge boost. This initiative will also protect Medical Cannabis users and release people from jail who’s only crime was non-violence posession or ingestion of cannabis. This is our opportunity to put our money where our mouth is. Join us in California by donating or volunteering for the California Cannabis Initiative who is working hard at bringing us the Tax, Regulate, and Control Cannabis Act of 2010 to the ballot box. Lets end this senseless war that has drained our local, state and federal treasuries and has destroyed more families and lives than any drug itself could have ever done.

To join or help the fight go to http://www.californiacannabisinitiative.org

Oscar Chavez
California Cannabis Initiative
San Bernardino County Coordinator

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