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.
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