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Latin America: Mexican Decriminalization Bill Now Law of the Land

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #598)
Consequences of Prohibition
Politics & Advocacy

A bill that decriminalizes the possession of small amounts of drugs for personal use in Mexico is now the law of the land, although it will not go into effect for one year to give states time to adjust their laws. It was published Thursday in the Official Daily of the Federation, the Mexican equivalent of the Federal Register. (To read the complete text of the bill in Spanish, go to page 83 of the Official Daily.

According to the new law, the amounts of various drugs decriminalized for personal use are:

  • opium -- 2 grams

  • cocaine -- 1/2 gram
  • heroin -- 1/10 gram
  • marijuana -- 5 grams
  • LSD -- 150 micrograms
  • methamphetamine -- 1/5 gram
  • ecstasy -- 1/5 gram

''Global Marijuana Day'' demonstration in Mexico City, May 2008
The decriminalization measure is part of a broader bill aimed at reducing "narcomenudeo," or retail drug sales. The bill would allow states and localities to prosecute small-time drug dealing offenses, a power that currently resides only with the federal government. It also allows police to make drug buys to build cases, a break with precedent in Mexico.

Whether the overall bill is a step forward or a step back is open to debate. Read our earlier discussion of the bill here.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Rusty (not verified)

Who are they kidding. How can it be legal to possess small amounts of drugs and still be illegal to grow, buy or sell drugs? The small amounts in the new law will have no impact on the problems of violence and corruption. The concessions made that will allow law enforcement to abuse its powers seems to be the goal. The only way to end prohibition is to end prohibition.

Fri, 08/21/2009 - 2:08pm Permalink
kickback (not verified)

In reply to by Rusty (not verified)

where will people get these small amounts? from those who have more obviously. this will do nothing to slow the drug trade. someone has to supply this small time demand just as it happens now. the government will say that legalizing small amounts did nothing to slow the trade. so legalizing larger amounts will be no different. therefore we must have more drug war. outright and full legalization is the only answer to this government created problem.

Sat, 08/22/2009 - 12:23am Permalink
schuylerx (not verified)

These amounts are ridiculously tiny. And extending jurisdiction over small retail sales to states and localities is going in the wrong direction. However, the tail cannot wag the dog, and until the US gets serious about reform/decriminalization, this is about as much as Mexico can do. Local police and judges (border states excepted) behave much more reasonably than their northern counterparts already, and I do not expect this new law to change that.

Fri, 08/21/2009 - 3:04pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I heard about a guy who had smaller than a sand grain amount of weed in his boot, and was imprisoned in Abu Duabi. Perhaps Mexico is trying not to appear this stupid.

Fri, 08/21/2009 - 3:25pm Permalink
TrebleBass (not verified)

This is good news. The part about expanding the government's powers over "narcomenudeo" is bad, obviously, for the people who have to go to jail. And it obviously won't change anything in terms of the violence. But regardelss, i think this new law is a step forward. There can always be small increases or small decreases in the government's power, but everything is always the same as long as drugs are basically still illegal. This finally breaks the mold and goes into new territory. Decrim really is half the battle. Now users will finally be left alone. The other half, legalizing sales, is much, much closer because of this. Even if the Mexican government isn't thinking of it that way, the people probably will. I mean, after a while, people will think, "well, if anyone who wants to use can already use, then what's the point of continuing this bloody drug war?"

Also, i can't wait to see what comments Hillary Clinton and Gil Kerlikowske will have on this. This moves the debate along really far in both countries.

Fri, 08/21/2009 - 4:28pm Permalink
Steve Bottrell (not verified)

Its still illegal. Gangs and Cartels (and corrupt officials) will thrive. Its a step, a tiny one. Decriminalization is a stupid idea IMO. Legalize and deal with it is the only way to go.

Fri, 08/21/2009 - 6:01pm Permalink
rita (not verified)

Whatcha gonna do with a half gram of cocaine or a fifth of a gram of meth? Go back in a hour and buy more, that's what. And THAT'S part of a plan to reduce drug sales? Oh, wait, it also allows cops to make drug buys (like they don't already) to build cases. THAT'S how they plan to reduce sales, buy arresting drug dealers! Wow! What a great idea! I wonder why nobody's thought of it before!

Sat, 08/22/2009 - 2:43am Permalink
maxwood (not verified)

If you are in Mexico reading this, bear in mind that if you use a narrow screened single-toke utensil 5 grams of riefer is 200 single tokes (25-mg. per serving). Use the semi-vaporizer technique: hold the crater opening of your long-stemmed one-hitter facing you so you can see what's going on, and hold a moderate lighter flame 1-2-cm. below the opening so that you heat the (pre-sifted, moderate/fine particle size) herb for several seconds without igniting it, giving cannabinols time to vaporize out. If herb darkens without igniting that is o.k.! After loading up your lungs, lay the equipment aside and breathe in and out of a 1-liter sack numerous times to absorb more THC.

Sat, 08/22/2009 - 1:11pm Permalink

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