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It was only a matter of time

3 October 2008

Mexican President Felipe Calderón, who has made fighting drug traffickers the centerpiece of his administration, proposed legislation on Thursday that would decriminalize the possession of small quantities of cocaine and other drugs for addicts who agreed to undergo treatment.

A similar measure two years ago provoked strong opposition from the United States and was eventually dropped.

Under Calderón’s proposal, Mexican authorities would not prosecute people found to be carrying small amounts of drugs if they declared they were addicts and submitted to a treatment program.

Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer

I don’t think this should surprise anyone.  I mentioned back in August that the PRD was thinking of introducing legislation to decriminalize narcotics use in the Federal District, and Calderon’s proposal seems to be a more Washington-friendly version of the same bill.  Incidentally, the recent abortion ruling is what makes the decriminalization proposal likely...  the court didn’t rule that abortion was moral or immoral, but that legislatures had the right (and duty) to regulate public health.

Narcotics use had been seen as a public health issue until recently, and my only objection to legalizing the narcotics sales is that the largest customer — the United States — and major source — Colombia — also treat the trade as a criminal matter, which means distribution will still be in the hands of gangsters, and not really contibute to security here.

My only concern about the rule requiring users to seek treatment (and, I’m not convinced that just using narcotics makes one an addict — or a social problem necessarily) could be used, as it is in U.S. states that have similiar laws, as an easy way to raise revenue (making the user pay for his or her treatment) and, that treatment models from the U.S. may not be completely applicable to Mexico.  I know plenty of “recovering alcoholics” who claim that vows to the Virgin of Guadalupe (and a pilgrimage to the Shrine) is responsible for their recovery.  Who am I to say it’s not true?  It works for them.  And, there are those who use narcotics for ritual and social reaons in this country (think peyote) — setting up yet another “usos y costumbres” clash.

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