Blogging mostly about mundane stuff like, immigration, Workers' Compensation and other immigrant related activities.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Mexico Drug Tourism

An unidentified man rolls a marijuana cigarette during demonstrations to celebrate International Day for the Liberation of Marijuana in Mexico City, Sunday, May 2, 2004. Mexicans would be allowed to possess small amounts of cocaine, heroin, even ecstasy for their personal use under a bill approved by lawmakers that some worry could prove to be a lure to young Americans. The bill now only needs President Vicente Fox's signature to become law and that does not appear to be an obstacle. His office said that decriminalizing drugs will free up police to focus on major dealers. The Senate approved the bill Friday, April 28, 2006 in the final hours of its closing session. Mexico's lower house had already endorsed the legislation. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

Andrew Warner writes a post about Mexico passing legislation that now makes possessing certain amounts of controlled substances legal for personal consumption. The new law marks a significant shift in how Mexico now views personal drug consumption and drug addiction.

Mexicans have long been familiar with the lucrative market for providing alcohol and drugs to its Northern neighbor. This bilateral trade route has history dating back to the Prohibition era. The border towns of Tijuana and Juarez and has always served as convenient venues in that regard. Mexicans are also quite familiar with the deadly aftermath that the Narco Wars has brought to the border regions as drug cartels fight for territory, but the Mexican public has generally regarded the drug violence as an issue that affects those involved in the drug trade and it similartly sees drug consumption and resulting drug addiction as more of a US problem. The increased drug use on both sides of the border seems to prove the simply law "supply and demand" and was reiterated by one of the biggest drug kingpins ever captured.

As the level of drug consumption and drug addiction increase in the US and to a smaller extend in Mexico have seen the border region become a low cost alternative for US owned drug rehabilitation centers south of the border. It should come as no surprise that Mexico's legislative body would seek alternatives to that of the failed US policy on its War on Drugs.

The new drug laws in Mexico seek to better address drug addiction and move towards a more progressive solution rather than a continued criminalization of casual drug use which only leads to increasing the amount of citizens jailed.

From the Washington Post:

Currently, Mexican law leaves open the possibility of dropping charges against people caught with drugs if they can prove they are drug addicts and if an expert certifies they were caught with "the quantity necessary for personal use."

The new bill drops the "addict" requirement, allows "consumers" to have drugs, and sets out specific allowable quantities, which do not appear in
the current law.

The United States and Mexico have significant disparities in the legal drinking age. The price of alcohol as well as the lack of enforcement on alcohol sales has always acted as a lure for those under the age of 21 to cross the border and drink. The border region between the US and Mexico have traditionally seen thousands of American teens and young adults cross the border and engage in binge drinking. The fear in the US is that an alarming number of young Americans already consume drugs that are manufactured in Colombia, distributed through Mexico, but sold mostly in the US.

Will Mexico's new drug policy see an increase in casualties which stem from "drug tourism"? Will casual drug users flock to Mexico in search of alternative venues for their drug use without risking the severe penalties they currently face in America?

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