Pubdate: Fri, 11 Sep 2009
Source: Arizona Daily Wildcat (AZ Edu)
Copyright: 2009 Arizona Daily Wildcat
Author: Chris Ward


Just last month, Mexico’s Senate passed a law that decriminalized
small amounts of drugs for personal use in an effort to stem the flood
of costly, and often unsuccessful, criminal drug prosecution, as well
as to focus the efforts of law enforcement on the large producers and

The law allows the possession of several drugs, including: marijuana,
cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, and LSD. The amounts allowed are
small, generally about the equivalent of two to three uses, but the
consequences could be enormous. If this whole scenario sounds
familiar, it’s because it has happened before. In 2006 the Mexican
Senate passed the same basic bill, but it was vetoed by then President
Vicente Fox after strong opposition from American politicians. After
initially supporting it, Fox changed his tune and asked for a revision
to “make it absolutely clear that in our country the possession of
drugs and their consumption are, and continue to be crimes.”

The difference now is that the current Mexican President Felipe
Calderon is the one who brought this bill before the Congress. Drug
traffickers that have killed thousands and whose actions even spilled
into the United States have him committed to signing the bill. It is
an effort, he believes, will help the military and federal officers
stop or at least control the intense violence along the border.

Mexico, particularly Nogales and Puerto Penasco, for the residents of
Tucson and students at the UA, has long been an affordable destination
for Americans to shop and relax. They have also, however, been a
destination for underage drinkers who wish to party in a bar or club,
as well as anyone with money who wants to pick up prescription drugs
without the hassle of faking symptoms and convincing a doctor to
prescribe something at a pricey doctor’s appointment.

It was never difficult to obtain drugs in Mexico, nor is it that
difficult to obtain drugs in America, though the consequences of
getting caught in either country could be enough for the average
person to avoid the risk. Now, with the legalization of recreational
narcotics for personal use, Mexico could see the number of drug
tourists jump considerably.

The drug use among college aged student’s, 18-25, is, and has tended
to be, almost double that of all the other age groups combined
according to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy
and the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

With this in mind, it’s easy to see how this new law could adversely
affect our college community. However, I feel this law is progressive
and can actually do a lot of good. The value of this law as a social
experiment, if for no other reason, could be extraordinary.

By legalizing drugs, the government doing so could generate boatloads
of revenue from the taxation of drugs. Also, legalizing drugs would
deal serious blows to terrorist organizations like the Taliban or al
Qaeda, who lately are getting large portions of their revenue from the
sale of illegal drugs or the ingredients needed to produce them.
Perhaps most importantly, with regulation of the drug trade including
the purity and potency, it would make society safer, with drugs likely
more difficult to obtain than now, and would almost certainly
precipitate a huge decline in violent crime.

Some things it will do for Mexico include dramatically lowering the
number of man-hours and money spent on the arrest and prosecution of
petty drug possession cases. According to the Associated Press, out on
the thousands of arrests and searches conducted in relation to small
time drug dealing or possession in Mexico, only 12-15 percent are ever
even charged with a crime.

To use our country as an example, according to the FBI, there were
over 870,000 marijuana related arrests in 2007 alone. Of those, almost
90 percent were only for possession of the drug. These numbers show
that, since the early 1990s, marijuana arrests have nearly tripled,
proving that the current policies and efforts made to prevent drug
use, trafficking and sales are ineffective and represent only an
incredible waste of taxpayers’ money.

Another probable benefit from the passage of this law will be to curb
corruption. Corruption has long been a problem within local Mexican
police forces, and the police with the proper donation could easily
overlook weapon possession, small amounts of drugs or traffic
violations, among other things.

This bill may curb such shady practices, but it’s not as if American
college students were sweating bullets if in possession of drugs in a
Mexican border or coastal city before this new law. Nor did college
students fear the wrath of drug related violence, as shown by the
increased tourism in Mexico during the spring break periods.

Drug use has forever been a part of human culture, and while it may
seem irresponsible of Mexico to legalize all drugs, they are at least
trying to do something. Thinking outside the box may be the best way
to overcome some of the problems related to drug trafficking.
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MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr