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Mexico Legalizes Drugs – Media Ignores

From the SanDiego Union-Tribune:

Mexican Federal Investigations Agency officers patrol the streets of Nuevo Laredo, June 18, 2005. 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.

Mexico legal-drug bill condemned

S.D. officials worried about spillover effect
By Tony Manolatos, Anna Cearley and Pauline Repard

April 29, 2006

Mayor Jerry Sanders and other local officials were astounded to hear that Mexico is close to legalizing an array of drugs – from marijuana to heroin – for personal use.

“I view this as a hostile action by a longtime ally of the U.S.,” Sanders said at a City Hall news conference.

Mexico’s Congress approved a bill yesterday that would allow possession of small quantities of marijuana, Ecstasy, cocaine and even heroin.

Mexican lawmakers say the change would actually strengthen drug enforcement efforts, but that’s not the interpretation north of the border.

“Legalizing these drugs is certainly going to have a spillover effect in San Diego,” said Damon Mosler, head of narcotics at the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office.

“It means they’ll be importing people who want to do drugs, and exporting those who need the financial wherewithal to continue to do those drugs they’ve become addicted to,” he said.

While shock and outrage dominated local reaction to the proposed law, federal authorities noted they were still gathering information on the specific details of the bill. They said the legislation appears to “clarify” policies, rather than legalize drugs.

In Mexico, the situation wasn’t any clearer.

Ruth Hernández, a congresswoman with the National Action Party, said the law’s intent is actually to prosecute more people for drug possession.

“This is not a law that will tolerate the consumption of drugs, but the way it was expressed makes it appear like that, and that’s why it’s creating a lot of consternation,” Hernández said. “The law should be sufficiently clear so there is no doubt in its interpretation.”

She said she abstained from voting on the measure because of her concerns with how it’s being interpreted.

President Vicente Fox is almost certain to sign it, said Oscar Aguilar, a Mexico City political analyst. Fox’s office proposed it, and his party supports it.

“He’s not going to abandon his party two months before the (presidential) election,” Aguilar said.

Locally, the region’s top political and law enforcement officials gathered at the news conference late yesterday to attack the policy change.

“This is going to have a tremendously bad effect on San Diego and the people who visit here,” Police Chief William Lansdowne said.

Sanders said he plans to encourage Fox not to sign the bill.

The legislation is “appallingly stupid, reckless and dangerous,” said the mayor, who was flanked by Lansdowne, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, Chula Vista Police Chief Richard Emerson and others.

“One has to ask the question: Are the drug lords running the show?” Dumanis said. “More addicts will flood our streets and crime will go up.”

Officials are concerned about the proposed law’s effect on young adults. With a drinking age of 18, teens already pack bars and nightclubs in places like Tijuana, Cancun, Acapulco. But many avoid drugs because they’re worried about getting caught.

The Bush administration had no immediate reaction. Calls to the San Diego offices of the Drug Enforcement Administration and Immigration and Customs Enforcement were referred to the U.S. State Department.

“Preliminary information from Mexican legislative sources indicates that the intent of the draft legislation is to clarify the meaning of ‘small amounts’ of drugs for personal use as stated in current Mexican law,” Janelle Hironimus, a State Department press agent, told The San Diego Union-Tribune in a prepared statement.

“We are working with our colleagues in Mexico to get additional information on this proposed legislation,” she said.

The statement also noted that the United States and Mexico “have a strong history of counter-narcotics cooperation, and the Fox administration has taken a firm stance against illegal drug cultivation, trafficking and abuse.”

Currently, Mexican law leaves open the possibility of dropping charges against people caught with drugs if they are considered addicts and if “the amount is the quantity necessary for personal use.” But the exemption isn’t automatic.

The new bill drops the “addict” requirement – automatically allowing any “consumers” to have drugs – and sets out specific allowable quantities.

Victor Clark, a Tijuana-based human rights activist who follows drug trends closely, said it appears the law would lead to more people being prosecuted for drug possession.

Clark said that under the previous law, many people were able to argue that they were addicts, and that meant they were back in the streets within hours.

Sale of all drugs would remain illegal under the proposed law. Still, the effects could be significant, given that Mexico is rapidly becoming a drug-consuming nation as well as a shipment point for traffickers.

The policy change is likely to surface when John Walters, director of the National Drug Control Policy in Washington, arrives in San Diego to meet with officials Wednesday.

A spokesman for Walters said the director’s trip was planned prior to the development south of the border.

Mexican officials hope the law will help police focus on large-scale trafficking operations, rather than minor drug busts. The bill also stiffens penalties for trafficking and possession of drugs – even small quantities – by government employees or near schools, and maintains criminal penalties for drug sales.

The bill, passed by Mexico’s Senate on a 53-26 vote with one abstention yesterday, had already been approved in the lower house. “This law gives police and prosecutors better legal tools to combat drug crimes that do so much damage to our youth and children,” presidential spokesman Rubén Aguilar said.

Under the measure, criminal charges would no longer be brought for possession of up to 25 milligrams of heroin, five grams of marijuana and a half-gram of cocaine.

“No charges will be brought against . . . addicts or consumers who are found in possession of any narcotic for personal use,” according to the bill, which also lays out allowable quantities for a large array of other drugs, including LSD, Ecstasy and amphetamines.

In California, it’s illegal to possess cocaine, heroin, LSD, Ecstasy and amphetamines. Medical marijuana can be used in certain circumstances, but casual use is illegal. Possession of less than one ounce of pot can draw a citation and a fine.

“Simple possession is an effective investigative tool into other crimes, including trafficking,” said Mosler of the District Attorney’s Office.

While the drug amounts the bill outlines appear to be small, they’re enough to supply some users for several days, said Dr. James Dunford, medical director of the city of San Diego’s paramedic service.

“It’s a travesty from a public health perspective,” he said.

Sanders said Mexico’s legislation couldn’t come at a worse time, as the U.S. struggles with immigration issues.

“I think it’s going to be necessary to have a much more secure border,” Sanders said.

Great news, what?

Funny, I don’t see any mention of this in our major media outlets.

I guess they are too busy promoting the upcoming illegal aliens May Day festivities.

This article was posted by Steve on Saturday, April 29th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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