April 29, 2006

MEXICO: The Poor Man's Amsterdam

Anymore, it looks like Mexico's chief exports to the U.S. are (1) illegals and (2) drugs. But here's a reason for potential undocumented workers to stay home:

Owning marijuana, cocaine and even heroin will no longer be a crime in Mexico if the drugs are carried in small amounts for personal use, under legislation passed by the Congress.

CBS news helpfully breaks down for the home audience how much they can pack before heading south of the border:

The bill says criminal charges will no longer be brought for possession of up to 25 milligrams of heroin, 5 grams of marijuana (about one-fifth of an ounce, or about four joints), or 0.5 grams of cocaine — the equivalent of about 4 “lines,” or half the standard street-sale quantity (though half-size packages are becoming more common).

The bill's goal is to get control of large traffickers and the lawlessness these drug cartels are fomenting. By giving up on policing users, Mexico is trying to focus on the major dealers. Given that it's a poor country, this refocusing of its limited resources doesn't seem unreasonable, at least in theory. I'm not on the legalization bandwagon, so I don't mind letting Mexico be the petrie dish of decriminization. And if it leads to more trafficking into America, then it's all the more reason to build a wall.

Still, whatever happens, I'm not sure if it'll be instructive for our own war on drugs. Since "police often release people detained for minor drug possession, in exchange for bribes," a big reason for this bill is to combat low-level Mexican government corruption. Because this kind of all-encompassing police corruption isn't an issue in America, the argument for legalization here tends to center more on issues of health and personal choice.

No word yet on whether public use will be allowed, but I'd be surprised if this wasn't an automatic draw for some Americans. It'll be interesting to see if Spring Break trips to Mexico increase come next year, and what stories get reported in campus newspaper when the kids come back.

Posted by JakeM at April 29, 2006 12:18 AM | TrackBack

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