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Drug flash backs at the U.S. Embassy

13 February 2007

With the Constitutional President having at one point run on the slogan “un mano duro para Mexico” (I think the U.S. spin doctors toned it down a bit), we’ve been paying attention to the military and punitive side of the “war on drugs”, something that fits OUR style. 

When I started posting daily, back in May 2005, the U.S. media had lost their taste for Vincente Fox, and were desperately trying to recover from having spent years trying to paint Lopez Obrador as a “fiery leftist”… the big issues were the immigration march and an iniative from the Fox administration to restrict drug possession, misreported and stupidly spun by people who had no idea of what they were talking about as if this had something to do with the tourism industry. 

That law would have tightened the restrictions on possession for medical necessity (an addict is a public health problem in Mexico, not a criminal), and given more power to local police and prosecutors.  As I wrote back then:

This isn’t a particularly radical law — Colombia’s possession laws are much more lenient. And for much the same reason. Drug users are a public health problem and a public nuisance. Drug trafficers are unfettered capitalists at their worst. They weren’t much of a problem when they stuck to bumping each other off. It’s their nasty habit of tossing hand grenades at reporters and cops that make them obnoxious. As in horse-shows, “close” is too damn close when it comes to grenades.

The laws then (and now) never defined what was “medically necessary”.  The proposed law did.  There was concern from the left over giving more power to local police, and from the Church (and some on the right) that this might somehow “encourage” drug use.  Even so, the changes actually made it through Congress… only to be faced with a rare Presidential veto:

 Fox’s veto was always seen as a favor to the world’s largest consumer nation. And, overriding a Presidential veto is very rare here. Fox will be out of office in December, and it was always assumed here that the bill will be introduced in the next Congressional session.

…Mexico doesn’t have much reason to trust, or listen to Washington right now. And — although Felipe Calderón continues to support Fox’s veto — either the PANistas realize his support may be evaporting, or, being “lame ducks” themselves, see no reason not to push through the reforms sooner, rather than later.

While not having to deal (immediately) with AMLO, FeCal’s U.S. style punitive expedition against the narcos is beginning to look counterproductive (as the left warned it would be).    But, given that the punative model is the only one that’s going to get past this President, I guess this is the best “sooner, rather than later” we can expect for now:

Updated version drops a clause allowing users to skirt punishment
Houston Chronicle (registration required)

By Marion Lloyd

MEXICO CITY — A new drug-abuse bill is making its way through the Mexican Senate, just months after a more liberal measure was scrapped amid pressure from Washington.

The proposed legislation, due to be voted on Wednesday by the Justice and Health committees, drops a clause that would have allowed drug users to escape punishment.

U.S. officials complained that the provision, which they viewed as decriminalization, would have inspired some American tourists to go on drug binges.

The bill, which Mexican officials said is needed to curb a soaring drug problem, would require first-time offenders caught with small quantities to enter mandatory treatment programs.

Second-time offenders would face criminal charges and could serve jail terms.

Street-level drug dealers would face years of imprisonment upon conviction, while traffickers and drug-gang soldiers would come under different laws that specify even longer sentences.

But people carrying small quantities of drugs for so-called “personal use” — defined in the bill as 2 grams of marijuana or 40 milligrams of methamphetamine — would escape prosecution, which officials said was a continuation of current policy.

Officials said 2 grams of marijuana would make four cigarettes, and 40 milligrams of methamphetamine is the equivalent of about one pill.

Those quantities are far lower than the amounts permitted in the original bill.

Judith Bryan, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, declined to comment on the specifics of the new bill but said that “it is obviously of interest to us.”

Uh… Judith, does that mean you want to cop a few joints? 

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