Mexican Senate Votes to Decriminalize Drug Possession

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Good news from Mexico:

MEXICO CITY, April 28 (Reuters) - Mexico's Senate approved a bill on Tuesday decriminalizing possession of small amounts of narcotics for personal use, in order to free resources to fight violent drug cartels.

The bill, proposed by conservative President Felipe Calderon, would make it legal to carry up to 5 grams (0.18 ounces) of marijuana, 500 milligrams (0.018 ounces) of cocaine and tiny quantities of other drugs such as heroin and methamphetamines.

Mexico's Congress passed a similar proposal in 2006 but the bill was vetoed by Calderon's predecessor Vicente Fox, under pressure from the United States, which said it would increase drug abuse, but now is worried by the drug-related violence along its border. [Reuters]

These are pathetically small amounts of drugs, but seeing any type of drug policy reform happening in Mexico is a positive development. When decriminalizing drug possession to help focus on the cartels doesn't work, maybe we can finally start talking about legalizing drugs to de-fund and destroy the cartels entirely.
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another brick

in the wall is crumbling.

If Calderon is so much on the political spot that he has to decriminalize possession to retain public support he is in trouble. And let's not forget that the legislature still needs to move his proposal. I would bet it gets modified along the way. (If Mexican legislative process allows for that.)

The elections in Mexico this summer should be a real cliffhanger for those who support the drug war.

Unlike ever before I have an impression that the drug war is going down in flames. Everybody, get out your fans.

Baby steps

I have read and participated in many conversations in the last 100 days about Obama not doing what the reform community wants. If this passes in Mexico and the Obama administration does not try to veto it, we will have a great victory.

I have not heard about any opposition from the Administration to the many marijuana bills in state legislatures. That is change that I can believe in.

Silence is acceptance, the KKK reasoning

When there is little or no opposition to a KKk activity in a community the Klan tells people that this is because most people support them. Silence is taken as a sign of support. I believe that this reasoning is totally baseless.

I think that applying the same reasoning to explain Obama's drug war positions is both counter-productive and just as baseless as the Klan's reasoning. And you have to ignore and deny clear assertions from Obama about escalating the drug war in order to make your position.

Dallas Morning News March 15, 2009


I have mixed feelings about this. I think it's good news for consumers, but I can also see that it would just strengthen the position of the drug cartels. The amounts they legalized don't make it practical for people to grow their own marijuana, so if want to get a legal amount, you're pretty much stuck buying it. It will also make it harder to enforce anti-dealer laws.

What concerns me is that the end effect could be stronger, more powerful cartels. If this happens, that would be a propaganda coup for the prohibitionists who could then say "look, mexico tried decriminalization, and it blew up in their face". The prohibitionists rely on very dishonest, simplistic arguments, and often do so very successfully.

Well, we'll have to see how it plays out. The other possibility is that this the first little push needed to get the ball rolling, and the movement will gain momentum.

All good points


I think this has something to do with Calderon's flagging support in upcoming legislative elections as well.

And there is the tacit admission by Calderon that he is running out of military resources to fight the drug war and needs to do this to ease the stress on the system.

If indeed Calderon is already over-extended so much that he needs to decriminalize possession to free up police and military for the war then he is in big trouble. The Swine flu then could be the straw that breaks his back.

Third world countries traditionally use their military to control any contagion outbreaks. Calderon has no military to do this since they are bottled up on the border. I think the drug war is proving itself a major inconvenience and public health disaster for Mexico.

Re: hmm...

I don't think this will make any difference at all. It's not going to strengthen the cartels. People who weren't using drugs aren't going to start using them now just because of this little law change. It won't weaken the cartels either because production and sales aren't being legalized and removed from the criminal element. Even if Mexico did legalize production and sales it wouldn't hurt the cartels that much because they make most of their money selling drugs here. Mexicans, believe it or not, aren't big drug users. Drugs for export is big business there, but relatively few people use any illegal drugs there compared to here. Decriminalizing possession of very small amounts of drugs never really makes a difference though. Several countries have done it and hasn't affected use.

The way to really put the hurt on the cartels is to legalize marijuana here. That's what they make the lion's share of their money from and the huge market for their pot makes it easier for them to sell their other drugs. They just run the other stuff through the same people selling their pot. If somebody selling the hard stuff for them gets busted or gets out of the business, there are plenty more people selling their pot that they can hit up to sell their other drugs. Those guys would be in a world of hurt without marijuana and marijuana distribution networks.

Straw Man

Decriminalizing, but still enforcing the laws that artificially inflate prices? I don't think this is a step in the right direction, I think it's a straw man for Calderon to regain support for his bloodbath. The Prohibs will say "look, we tried, but the violence is still there."

Even if

That is the goal of Calderon it does not need to be the end that a strong reform effort can divert it to. I hope that some planning sessions can take place down there that can co-opt the initiative away from the prohibs and whatever their strategy is for proposing this.

Remember, reform politicians have been trying to get something like this through for years. I would hope that the reformers have a lot of the permutations thought out years ago.

That goes for CA too

If the full legalization bill passes in CA with such an outragiously high tax it will do nothing to stop the black market and the drug warriors will jump all over it.For decades the reform movement has been telling us that the black market would be out of business overnight with legalization but it won't if done this way and the reformers will lose credibility.
I can't believe groups like NORML are supporting the CA bill instead of protecting marijuana consumers from outragious taxes to punish us.With the $50 per oz tax plus a 100% markup by the distributors it would be $100 per oz.Why wouldn't a dealer charge $95? He would still be making a killing for a dried plant.
Legal marijuana should cost no more than pipe tobacco.


Then why don't we see more black market cigarettes? The taxation, in itself, would have to be absurdly high to perpetuate the black market. As long as it's legal to grow and sell it, there is a large incentive to do so within the legal framework. Decriminalization does absolutely nothing to diminish the black market, as it's still illegal to sell and acquire the drugs that are legal only to possess.


This is absurdly high

1 ounce marijuana-$100

1 ounce oregano-$1

If the tax on cigarettes gets much higher we may see a black market,it has already happened in Canada.It costs $7 per pack of cigarettes which is the equivelent of a half ounce of marijuana.Why should marijuana cost $50 for the same number of joints?

lucky you

Where I come from, a pack of cigs costs at least $7 now, which sucks, yeah.

But an oz? Dude, that cost anywhere from $100 - $180, generally. And you're lucky if you can find the $100 oz at all, luckier still if it is actually smokable.

As for comparing marijuana to oregano? Don't be absurd, you can't get high oregano, even if you do smoke that entire oz. As for cigarettes, they're just addictive and bear little comparison to pot, other than that they both go up in smoke.

"This is absurdly high 1

"This is absurdly high

1 ounce marijuana-$100

1 ounce oregano-$1"

What's more important is how much it costs to get high. A single gram will do the trick for me several times. It usually costs me pennies per smoking session, a dollar or two at most. It is way cheaper than beer. If it stays cheaper than beer or around the same price per use, it's not that expensive.

If we legalized it nationwide and had a big competitive marijuana industry, prices would be super low. They're getting about a thousand pounds of bud per acre in Mexico now. We could do that here and produce a lot better product, and per acre productoin costs should be more than a few thousand bucks, if that. It costs about $2,500 per acre to produce tobacco, including the cost of drying and curing it. It would probably end up costing just a few dollars a pound wholesale before taxes. Phillip Morris pays less than $3 a pound for dried and cured tobacco. Pot will be so cheap that they could put massive taxes on it and it could still be cheaper than it is today for consumers.

If it were up to me they wouldn't start with a $50 per ounce tax. It will take a while for prices to really come down and the idea is to kill the black market. Regular sales taxes are enough to begin with.

That California bill won't pass anyway. And if by some miracle it did pass we wouldn't see the kind of big business marijuana industry we'd see if the feds legalized it because people would be too worried about what the feds might do. It would be more like the medical marijuana industry with small scale growing and exorbitantly priced product.

When it's legalized for real we'll see big corporations getting involved, marijuana farms that span hundreds of acres or more. It will be a whole different ball game then.

There is but

police don't generally enforce against it. State tax bureaus have the policing power and they do not have the enforcement capacity to do anything.

When New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg first took office he bragged at giving the city the highest cigarette tax in the nation. Some five weeks after his announcement a truck load of cigarettes driven by Palestinian Hamas sympathizers was busted heading north from North Carolina. they were destined for New York City to get money for the Palestinian cause.

Above a certain price level black markets naturally grow to respond to market demand. This is true for any product.

Your right...Its process

Your right to be concerned about the high tax potential for keeping the black markets in place. But legislation is a process. No legislation ends up precisely as it is proposed. In hearings it gets changed. The important thing now is to get the legislation into the committee hearings and then make sure that reform arguments about prohibition economics are heard by the legislators who are deliberating the legislation.


Is the price you pay for legitimacy. Every other intoxicant is taxed, it's called a 'sin tax'. Even if you don't view pot as a vice (you'd have to be smoking crack to think pot isn't an intoxicant, at the least), what isn't taxed these days? Death and taxes, fool.

5 grams-- the riefernomics

If Mexico permits carrying 5 grams of cannabis, it will mean 200 tokes (40 per gram) provided the user is clever enough to use a quarter-inch diameter screened single toke utensil. (I think eventually vaporizer and e-cigarette will be the way to go, but in the meantime you can make your own mini-smoking utensil from pennies'-worth of materials.)

If California passed a high-tax legalization scheme, a $100/oz. price divided by about 900 tokes from properly sifted bud would be 11c a serving. On a merciful compassionate moderation regimen of 10 single tokes every two days, or 1826 per year, that's about $200, or ONE TENTH the present yearly budget of a hot-burning-overdose nicotine cigaret addict buying those $7/pack high tax squares.

So let's get behind these less than perfect measures, 55c a day for riefer isn't the end of the world-- unless you are a shareholder in Fill Up More Rich.

Right but...

Is the price you pay for legitimacy

This is mixed :S

I think it's good news for consumers, but I can also see that it would just strengthen the position of the drug cartels. I don't think this will make any difference at all.

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