Monday, May 1, 2006

legalize it?

mexico's senate passed a bill on friday that would decriminalize possession of up to 5 grams of marijuana, 0.5 grams of cocaine, 25 mgs of heroin, and two pounds of peyote. according to the washington post, cnn, and other sources, vicente fox is signaling that he will sign off on changes such as these to mexico's federal penal code:

Article 478: No criminal prosecution will be brought against ... II. Any drug addict or consumer who is found in possession of a narcotic for personal use. Article 474 defines a "consumer" as any person who consumes or uses psychotropic or narcotic substances, and who does not exhibit any symptoms of addiction.

legalization advocates such as ethan nadelman of the drug policy alliance are praising the measure, ostensibly for its potential to reduce low-level police corruption. i strongly favor ratcheting down lengthy drug sentences and collateral sanctions targeting drug offenders, such as housing and financial aid restrictions. nevertheless, the prospect of legal heroin gives me the willies.

although legalization seems to function ok in the netherlands, someone will have to convince me how this is a good deal for mexicans or americans. at best, the move will diminish the social harm associated with harsh and erratic enforcement (though i can imagine, say, san diego kids getting twenty years hard time for stuff they did legally in tijuana). at worst, the prevalence of use will increase and both locals and tourists could pick up some potentially life-changing habits.

given the two-pound peyote limit, one thing is certain: we'll see more carlos castaneda-like writing from students doing spring break in cancun and mazatlan.

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