Mexico enacts 'personal use' drug law

By chillinwill · Aug 21, 2009 · ·
  1. chillinwill
    MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico has enacted a controversial law that decriminalizes possession of small amounts of marijuana, cocaine and heroin.

    The law defines "personal use" amounts for those drugs, as well as LSD and methamphetamines.

    It says people found with those amounts will not face criminal prosecution, but that if caught a third time they will be required to complete treatment programs, though no punishment is specified to enforce that.

    The law enacted Thursday says anyone caught with personal-use quantities of drugs will be urged to seek treatment for dependency. It takes effect Friday.

    In 2006, the U.S. government publicly criticized a similar bill. Then-President Vicente Fox sent that legislation back to Congress for reconsideration.

    August 20, 2009
    USA Today

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  1. Alfa
    I wonder what amounts are allowed. Does this law solely allow possession, or purchasing small amounts as well?
  2. corvardus
    According to the Associated Press

    An enhanced news article can be found here: Google News

  3. chillinwill
    Here is the updated article that corvardus pointed out

    MEXICO CITY — Mexico enacted a controversial law Thursday decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, cocaine, heroin and other drugs while encouraging free government treatment for drug dependency.

    The law sets out maximum "personal use" amounts for drugs, also including LSD and methamphetamine. People detained with those quantities will no longer face criminal prosecution when the law goes into effect Friday.

    Anyone caught with drug amounts under the personal-use limit will be encouraged to seek treatment, and for those caught a third time treatment is mandatory — although the law does not specify penalties for noncompliance.

    Mexican authorities said the change just recognized the long-standing practice here of not prosecuting people caught with small amounts of drugs that they could reasonably claim were for personal use, while setting rules and limits.

    Under previous law, possession of any amount of drugs was punishable by stiff jail sentences, but there was leeway for addicts caught with smaller amounts. In practice, nobody was prosecuted and sentenced to jail for small-time possession, said Bernardo Espino del Castillo, the coordinator of state offices for the attorney general's office.

    "We couldn't charge somebody who was in possession of a dose of a drug, there was no way ... because the person would claim they were an addict," he added.

    "This person obviously couldn't be charged, not yesterday, not the day before, not a year ago, but the bad thing was that it was left up to the discretion of the detective, and it could open the door to corruption or extortion."

    In the past, police sometimes hauled suspects to police stations and demanded bribes, threatening long jail sentences if people did not pay.

    "This is not legalization, this is regulating the issue and giving citizens greater legal certainty ... for a practice that was already in place," Espino del Castillo said.

    In 2006, the U.S. government publicly criticized a similar bill. Then President Vicente Fox sent that law — which did not have a mandatory treatment provision — back to Congress for reconsideration.

    The maximum amount of marijuana considered to be for "personal use" under the new law is 5 grams — the equivalent of about four joints. The limit is a half gram for cocaine, the equivalent of about 4 "lines." For other drugs, the limits are 50 milligrams of heroin, 40 milligrams for methamphetamine and 0.015 milligrams for LSD.

    The law was approved by Congress before it recessed in late April, and President Felipe Calderon, who is leading a major offensive against drug cartels, waited most of the summer before enacting it.

    Calderon's original proposal would have required first-time detainees to complete treatment or face jail time. But the lower house of Congress, where Calderon's party was short of a majority, weakened the bill.

    Mexico has emphasized the need to differentiate drug addicts and casual users from the violent traffickers whose turf battles have contributed to the deaths of more than 11,000 people during Calderon's term. In the face of growing domestic drug use, Mexico has increased its focus on prevention and drug treatment.

    Sen. Pablo Gomez of the leftist Democratic Revolution Party praised the legislation: "This law achieves the decriminalization of drugs, and in exchange offers government recovery treatment for addicts."

    Previously, possession of any amount of drugs was punishable by stiff jail sentences, with some leeway for those considered addicts and caught with smaller amounts. But in practice, relatively few people were prosecuted and sentenced to jail for small-time possession.

    While the United States openly expressed concern about the 2006 law, this time around it has been more circumspect.

    Asked about the new law in July, U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske said he would adopt a "wait-and-see attitude."

    "If the sanction becomes completely nonexistent I think that would be a concern, but I actually didn't read quite that level of de facto (decriminalization) in the law," said Kerlikowske, who heads the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy.

    August 20, 2009
    Assocatied Press
  4. chillinwill
    Mexico's new narcotics laws go into effect
    Possession of small amounts is no longer a crime

    MEXICO CITY — Party on, amigos.

    Embroiled in a bloody war with its narcotics smuggling syndicates, Mexico has decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.

    The now-permitted quantities equal several marijuana joints, a few lines of cocaine and much smaller doses of the other drugs.

    Having greater amounts, selling them, or partaking in public remain illegal. Those caught the first few times with smaller quantities will be encouraged to seek treatment. Repeat offenders will be forced into rehabilitation.

    Mexican officials say the move, coupled with new laws to aid enforcement against small-time narcotics peddlers, will free up resources to target major traffickers.

    “With this reform we will make the combined capability of enforcement against this crime a legal and operational reality,” Attorney General Eduardo Medina-Mora told a conference of state prosecutors.

    The laws that took effect Thursday define narcotics possessed for personal consumption as 5 grams of marijuana, half a gram of cocaine, 40 milligrams of meth and 50 milligrams of heroin.

    But the laws also make the possession and marketing of larger quantities — more than 11 pounds of marijuana, for instance — a federal offense. Small-time drug peddling remains a state offense.

    The prosecution of small-time users has fed corruption among local police who shake them down and clogged Mexico's prisons.

    Mexicans' use of marijuana and cocaine has rocketed in recent years as traffickers actively seek domestic customers. Heroin and methamphetamine addiction has become a serious problem in some urban areas.

    Mexico joins Portugal as only the second country in the world to legalize personal amounts of a wide range of narcotics, according to Allen St. Pierre, executive director of Norml, a group lobbying to decriminalize marijuana in the United States.

    Thirteen American states, with a combined population of 115 million people, have now decriminalized possession of personal quantities of marijuana, St. Pierre said. Decriminalizing cocaine and other narcotics is not being pushed by anyone, he said.

    In Texas, the possession of 2 ounces or less of marijuana remains a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a $2,000 fine.

    Acknowledging that many Americans “think it's not all that serious,” U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlekowski told reporters during a July visit here that federal decriminalization of marijuana remains “a non-issue.”

    August 21, 2009
    Chron World
  5. Motorhead
    I have been following this story now and think its great that Mexico has decriminalized the possession of small amounts of drugs. However the Mexican government passed some other laws along with it that are on par, or even harsher, with some of the laws in the US.

    This is an excerpt from an article posted on Narcoshpere by Kristen Bricker on May 9, 2009. I've highlighted text in bold that I find particularly interesting.

    From Mexico Decriminalizes Simple Possession, Cracks Down on Everything Else:

    Erich Moncada, writing for El Sendero del Peje, argues that the decriminalized quantities of drugs are arbitrary. The allowable quantities of marijuana (5 grams) and heroin (50 mg) constitute multiple doses. The allowable quantity of cocaine is a half a gram, or about three lines--not nearly the quantity an established user would consume in a single session. Regarding the .5 gram cocaine limit, the Mexican Collective for Intergrated Drug Policy stated, "These amounts are not realistic in terms of the drug market (for example, the initiative allows a consumer to have .5 grams of coke, when coke is sold on the streets by the gram)." In the case of marijuana, even though 5 grams is a multi-dose quantity, it is still less than most Mexican consumers purchase at once, because marijuana is significantly cheaper in Mexico than in the United States, and purchasing in larger quantities means a significant reduction in price.

    If a user is caught with more than the allowable quantity in his or her possession, strict penalties have been introduced. Prior to the reform, the General Health Law (the federal law that includes drug crimes) did not contain set prison sentences for drug infractions. It merely instructed judges to base sentencing on the following criteria: damage to society as a result of the crime, the severity of the crime, the defendant's socio-economic conditions, the likeliness of recidivism, and how much the defendant benefited from committing the crime.

    Under the new law, however, the penalties are in many cases on par with or more severe than the strictest penalties in the United States. When considering penalties for possession of quantities that exceed the allowable amounts, the new Mexican law does not differentiate between drugs. The penalty for possessing marijuana is the same as that for possession of heroin. The law states that people who are in possession of up to 1,000 times the allowable amounts should be sentenced to 10 months-3 years in prison and a fine if the government can not prove they intended to sell said drugs.

    In the case of crack or cocaine, the new law does not differentiate between the two, thus avoiding the racial and class discrimination that has plagued the US judicial system due to its different treatment of crack cocaine and powdered cocaine. As previously stated, the maximum allowable amount for cocaine is a half a gram. Possession of between a half a gram and 500 grams results in a 10 month - 3 year prison sentence and a fine. In the United States, a suspect must possess at least 500 grams of powder cocaine in order to trigger a 5-year mandatory minimum sentence.

    In the case of marijuana, Mexico will now punish possession of 5 grams - 5,000 grams (or about 11 pounds) of marijuana with ten months to three years in prison and a fine. In the United States, federal law states that possession of any amount is punishable by one year in prison and a $1,000 fine. However, at the state level in the US, punishments vary by state. The punishment for the higher end of Mexico's 5g-11lb. range is on par with or less than the strictest state drug laws in the US. However, the Mexican penalty for the lower end of the range is far more severe than many state laws in the US. Many states don't give prison time to people caught with 1 oz. (28.5 grams) or less of marijuana. Even those that do (Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, and Washington DC amongst others) don't punish possession of 6 grams with up to three years in prison (the penalty in those states that do mandate jail time for simple possession is generally no more than one year).

    Under Mexico's new law, decriminalization only applies to personal use in the strictest sense. The law provides stiff penalties for those who "supply (even for free)" other people with drugs, even if the "supplied" amount falls within the allowable amounts. Someone who "supplies (even for free)" someone with up to one thousand times the allowable amount of drugs is subject to 4-8 years in prison and a fine. As El Sendero del Peje's Moncada points out, a person who is in possession of a single joint (under 5 grams) of marijuana can't be thrown in jail thanks to the new law. But if that person passes that joint to another person to take a hit, that can be considered supplying the second person with drugs, and the person who passed the marijuana cigarette will be subject to 4-8 years in prison and a fine. That loophole means this aspect of Mexico's new drug sentencing rules are far more severe than any found in the United States: in Mexico the federal minimum for smoking a joint and passing it to another person is four years in prison. If the person on the receiving end of the joint (or any other drug, for that matter) is a juvenile, the sentence is raised to 7-15 years in prison.

    Kristen Bricker
    May 9, 2009
    Full article can be found here:
  6. anonuser30500
    In the UK possession of small amounts depends on the policeman or women and how they feel about it. Some cops see half an ounce or an ounce as personal if its in one bag and not weighed up into 'deals'.

    Some cops will let small amounts go, others have been known to throw it down a grid in the gutter. Others will slap an on the spot fine for cannabis and confiscate the cannabis. A lot of cannabis charges for small amounts are usually 'add ons' when someone is arrested for some other offence and gifts the cops one more charge. Burglars for instance, you cannot blame the cop for being a bit tough and busting them for the smoke as well as being a robbing toerag.

    Cocaine and heroin, most cops will make a bust even if its personal. Some cops will weigh up the situation and if a cocaine charge will bring a world of trouble they might throw it down a grid, or grind it into the pavement. A lot tend to make a distinction between class a and class b.

    Making small amounts of class B drugs legal is only real part of the answer. Class a's need some medical backup and some sort of license for users. I think treatment for the class a users has to be done. Some will likely always use the heroin but at least they will live for longer than they would injecting powder from the UK gangs, Irish, Afghanis, Turks and East Europeans. Mexico has a war on her hands with its own mafias and gangs. The only deterrent to the gangs dealing is likely to bribe some who would benefit from legalisation, perhaps realising that doing business without murdering people means you can enjoy your money.

    No pockets in a shroud, is there?

    Mexico's move is flawed, but still a move in a right direction. Lets hope a year from now we don't have Mexican cops being beheaded and tortured.
  7. Niteflights
    This sounds like a mistake. 15ug is not even a single weak dose of LSD. I doubt they could even measure this. 50ug is generally considered the weakest acid which is over 3 times more.

    I hope they mean .015g. That could mean a new 60s for Mexico. They deserve it after the hell the cartels have put them through.
  8. nibble
    50 milligrams of cut street heroin is not going to be multiple doses, probably a single dose at most and that's without a tolerance. 15mcg of LSD? If you saved your limit for a week you'd still have a low dose, pretty ridiculous.
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