CITY – Mexican President Vicente Fox will sign into law a
measure that would decriminalize possession of small
amounts of marijuana, cocaine and even heroin, his
spokesman said Tuesday.
Spokesman Ruben Aguilar
defended the law, approved Friday by Mexico's Senate,
despite criticism by some in the United States that it
could increase problems with casual drug use by visitors
or in border areas.
“The president is going to
sign this law,” said Aguilar, who called the legislation
“a better tool ... that allows better action and better
coordination in the fight against drug dealing.”
“The government believes
that this law represents progress, because it established
the minimum quantities that a citizen can carry for
personal use,” Aguilar said.
Currently, Mexican law
allows judges the latitude 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 makes the
decriminalization automatic, allows “consumers” as well as
addicts to have drugs, and delineates specific allowable
quantities, which do not appear in the current law.
While police could still
detain people for public consumption or possession of
drugs, it appears that those caught would only be
recommended to a treatment program – of which Mexico has
few – or inclusion in a registry of “addicts.”
On Friday, San Diego,
California, Mayor Jerry Sanders said he was “appalled” by
the bill. The city of 1.3 million people sits a short
drive from the Mexican border town of Tijuana.
“I certainly think we are
going to see more drugs available in the United States,”
Sanders said. “We need to register every protest the
American government can muster.”
Under the law, consumers
could legally possess up to 25 milligrams of heroin, 5
grams of marijuana (about one-fifth of an ounce, or about
four joints), or 0.5 grams of cocaine – the equivalent of
about 4 “lines,” or half the standard street-sale
The law lays out allowable
quantities for a large array of other drugs, including
LSD, MDA, MDMA (ecstasy, about two pills' worth), and
However the bill stiffens
penalties for trafficking and possession of drugs – even
small quantities – by government employees or near
schools, and maintains criminal penalties for drug sales.
It also gives local police
more power to go after small-scale drug dealing.