Now marijuana, cocaine, LSD, and heroin will be tolerated for personal use. It's part of a bid to free up resources and jail space so that authorities can focus efforts on big-time traffickers.
MEXICO CITY – In 2006, a Mexico initiative to decriminalize limited personal drug use set off a storm north of the border. The San Diego mayor called it "appallingly stupid." Mexico was painted as a potential haven for drug tourism, the next Netherlands of Latin America.
The initiative, not surprisingly, quickly died.
Three years later, in the midst of a massive drug war that’s taken more than 11,000 lives and brought the US and Mexico into closer and more costly cooperation, the initiative has quietly become law. And there’s hardly a peep.
Now not just marijuana, but cocaine, LSD, and heroin will be tolerated for personal and limited use. That means about four joints, or half a gram of cocaine, or 50 milligrams of heroin. Bigger quantities, sales, and public consumption are still strictly forbidden.
Officials here say the aim is to free up both resources and jail space so that authorities can focus efforts on big-time traffickers wreaking havoc in Mexico. "This frees us from a flood of small crimes that have saturated our federal government and allows the authorities to go after big criminals," said Bernardo Espino del Castillo, who works in the attorney general's office in Mexico.
It also focuses on rehabilitation for repeat drug users, making treatment mandatory for abusers. As we reported earlier this year, the number of addicts in Mexico has grown in just six years by more than 50 percent, from 300,000 to 465,000, according to government statistics.