Latest Drug War News

GoodShop: You Shop...We Give!

Shop online at and a percentage of each purchase will be donated to our cause! More than 600 top stores are participating!

The Internet Our Website

Global and National Events Calendar

Bottoms Up: Guide to Grassroots Activism

Prisons and Poisons

November Coalition Projects

Get on the Soapbox! with Soap for Change

November Coalition: We Have Issues!

November Coalition Local Scenes

November Coalition Multimedia Archive

The Razor Wire
Bring Back Federal Parole!
November Coalition: Our House

Stories from Behind The WALL

November Coalition: Nora's Blog

October 3, 2008 -- New York Times (NY)

Mexican President Proposes Decriminalizing Some Drugs

By Elisabeth Malkin and Marc Lacey

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

MEXICO CITY -- President Felipe Calderon, who has made fighting drug traffickers the centerpiece of his administration, proposed legislation on Thursday that would decriminalize the possession of small quantities of cocaine and other drugs for addicts who agreed to undergo treatment.

Mr. Calderon said that the proposal was intended to attack the growing problem of drug addiction in Mexico. Still, it will probably be controversial both at home and abroad. A similar measure two years ago provoked strong opposition from the United States and was eventually dropped.

A recent government survey found that the number of drug addicts in Mexico had almost doubled in the past six years to 307,000, while the number of those who had tried drugs rose to 4.5 million from 3.5 million.

Drugs used to flow through Mexico to the United States, and they still do, but an increasing amount of those narcotics now stays in Mexico to feed the habits of domestic consumers.

Under Mr. Calderon's proposal, Mexican authorities would not prosecute people found to be carrying small amounts of drugs if they declared they were addicts and submitted to a treatment program.

Those who are not addicts could avoid prosecution by entering a prevention program. Fines could be imposed for those who declined to enter such programs.

The new legislation caps the quantities that would not be subject to prosecution at 50 milligrams of heroin, 2 grams of marijuana, 500 milligrams of cocaine and 40 milligrams of methamphetamine.

The Mexican attorney general's office has said that it is so overwhelmed with prosecuting organized crime that it cannot handle the large number of small-time drug cases.

The measure is reminiscent of a proposal that passed the Mexican Congress two years ago but never took effect. It decriminalized possession of small amounts of drugs for people who could convince a judge that they were addicts.

That law, which did not require treatment for those found with drugs, provoked an uproar among United States officials, some of whom raised the image of Americans going to Mexico to enjoy legal drugs.

Under intense lobbying from the United States, Vicente Fox, the president at the time, asked Congress to amend the law and the measure was dropped.

Responding to Mr. Calderon's plan, American officials said Thursday that United States policy opposed the legalization of even small amounts of drugs. "It rewards the drug traffickers and doesn't make children's lives safer," said an American official, who asked not to be identified.

United States officials have heaped praise on Mr. Calderon for his crackdown on Mexico's drug cartels. Since taking office in December 2006, he has sent some 30,000 troops into eight states and cities in an attempt to quell drug violence. But the violence has only increased. Almost 3,000 people have been killed in drug violence this year.

In a recent interview, an American counternarcotics official called Mr. Calderon a partner with the United States in the fight against illegal drugs and said he had shown no signs of backing down in his fight.

To buttress Mr. Calderon's efforts, the United States Congress has approved $400 million in antidrug aid for Mexico, part of a larger three-year package of aid to help Mexico and countries in Central America and the Caribbean battle drug traffickers.

Mexico's drug cartels are fighting for control of routes to the United States, which remains the world's primary market for illegal drugs. Increasingly, they are also fighting over control of the growing Mexican market for drug consumption, analysts here say.

For the latest drug war news, visit our friends and allies below

We are careful not to duplicate the efforts of other organizations, and as a grassroots coalition of prisoners and social reformers, our resources (time and money) are limited. The vast expertise and scope of the various drug reform organizations will enable you to stay informed on the ever-changing, many-faceted aspects of the movement. Our colleagues in reform also give the latest drug war news. Please check their websites often.

The Drug Policy Alliance
Drug Reform Coordination Network
Drug Sense and The Media Awareness Project

Working to end drug war injustice

Meet the People Behind The U.S. Sentencing Guidelines

Questions or problems? Contact