Mexico Drug Law Pushes Treatment Not Prison
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Mexico's Interior Minister says that country's new drug law does not decriminalize drugs and people who are concerned about law are confused. But Tijuana's Mayor is one of the people who says he's uneasy.
Mexico's new drug law intends to recast the possession of small amounts of drugs as a public health issue, instead of a public safety problem. Under the new law, the first two times people are caught with something like a half of a gram of cocaine or five grams of marijuana, police will direct them to treatment centers.
Mexico's Interior Minister says that the country's new drug law does not decriminalize drugs and people who are concerned about the law are confused. But Tijuana's Mayor is one of the people who says he's uneasy.
Interior Minister Fernando Gomez-Mont, said the third time is a crime. "It is a strong response of the Mexican state, involving more authorities against drug trafficking and establishing for cases in which criminal prosecution would not be efficient and would be expensive, a proper response in order to prevent consumption."
The law allows state police to arrest drug dealers with up to 1,000 times the personal consumption amounts. Traditionally, that's been the domain of federal police.
The law is also intended to free up prison space for dangerous criminals.
However, Tijuana's Mayor, Jorge Ramos, is concerned the law contradicts President Felipe Calderon's war against drug cartels. "We've been fighting that situation," said Ramos. "And in some ways it's legalizing what we're fighting against. It is a difficult situation for us."
Drug related killings hit a record high in Tijuana last year. Murders this year have leveled off to about one a day, however the number of drug addicts in Tijuana has shot up during the last few years.
Meanwhile, San Diego's police chief worries Mexico's new law will lure Americans to Mexico for drugs.
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