Mexican Government Poised to Decriminalize Small Amounts of Drugs, Including Marijuana, Cocaine and Heroin

Press Release April 27, 2006
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Tony Newman at (646) 335-5384

The Mexican Congress recently passed a bill that would decriminalize small amounts of marijuana, cocaine and other drugs for personal use. The legislation, which is expected to be signed by Mexico President Vicente Fox, would remove penalties for possessing up to five grams of marijuana, five grams of opium, 25 milligrams of heroin or 500 milligrams of cocaine.

The move is designed to “provide more judicial tools for authorities to fight crime,” according to Mexico’s presidential spokesman, Ruben Aguilar.

“No charges will be brought against … addicts or consumers who are found in possession of any narcotic for personal use,” the text of the bill reads.

Statement from Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance (see description below).

“The legislation just approved by the Mexican Congress to decriminalize personal possession of illicit drugs is consistent with the broader trend throughout western Europe, Canada and other parts of Latin America to stop treating drug use and possession as a criminal problem. But it contrasts sharply with the United States, where arrests for marijuana possession hit a record high last year – roughly 650,000 annually – and now represent roughly 40 percent of all drug arrests nationwide. Mexico is trying to make the right choices on law enforcement priorities; it’s time for the United States to do the same,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “It’s also worth pointing out that the Mexican legislation will go a long way toward reducing opportunities for police corruption and harassment in their interactions with ordinary citizens. This is a major problem worldwide, including in the United States.”

The Drug Policy Alliance is the nation’s leading organization working to end the war on drugs. We envision new drug policies based on science, compassion, health and human rights and a just society in which the fears, prejudices and punitive prohibitions of today are no more.

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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