Monday, February 5, 2018

Mexico's Failed 2009 Drug Decriminalization Law

Chivis Martinez for Borderland Beat republished from Talkin Drugs

Yes, Mexico decriminalized drugs in 2009

A related article posted by Yaqui "A global argument for legalization" 

Mexico's move to decriminalize drug possession in 2009 has achieved little in practice, a recent report shows, with drug-related arrests still routinely carried out throughout the country.

The Research Consortium on Drugs and the Law (Colectivo de Estudios Drogas y Derecho - CEDD) in July released a study which analyzes government responses to illicit drug use across eight Latin American countries: Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay. The study, titled "In Search of Rights: Drug Users and Government Responses in Latin America," found that Latin American governments overwhelmingly favor criminal justice approaches to drug use over health-oriented policies, even in countries that have -- in theory -- decriminalized use and possession.
The sustained use of punitive measures has resulted in drug users across Latin America becoming increasingly vulnerable before the authorities, “exposing them to corruption, extortion, physical abuse, sexual abuse, arbitrary detention and other violations of their human rights," according to the report. One such country where there are discrepancies between the law and practice is Mexico where the Small-Scale Trafficking Law  was introduced in August 2009, decriminalizing drug possession under certain thresholds.
click on image to enlarge

The establishment of amounts that could be possessed without punishment initially seemed like a progressive step. However, when studying the thresholds and how low they were set -- cocaine at 0.5 grams, heroin at 50 milligrams, methamphetamines at 40 milligrams -- it is apparent that this is little more than quasi-decriminalization. The amount of marijuana allowed is slightly more at five grams, yet suspects can still be detained with this quantity one which is incredibly low when contrasted with places such as Washington and Colorado where personal possession of up to 28 grams is allowed. Drug users in Mexico, therefore, continue to be criminalized, and extremely harshly as anything above the legal threshold but under 1,000 times that amount deems them to be small-time traffickers in the eyes of the law. Any possession that exceeds 1,000 times the limit is then considered large-scale trafficking, and the person will be subjected to the severest drug sentencing possible.

Strong doubts were immediately cast on just how effective this law would be in distinguishing drug users from traffickers. A 2009 report by the Transnational Institute (TNI) and Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), for example, argued that the law criminalizes consumers "for crimes which are inherent to act of consumption," and does not provide a legal way for people to access the drugs that they are allowed to possess. In addition, TNI and WOLA outlined that the law fails to recognize that the reason many enter the illicit drug market is due to a lack of economic opportunity, thus harsh sentences typically fall upon the most vulnerable within society -- namely the poor, women and young people.

Evidence of the law's failure is abundant, as the CEDD notes, with 140,860 arrests for drug use between 2009 and May 2013, leading to 53,769 criminal investigations federally. A 2012 Center for Research and Teaching in Economics (CIDE) study revealed massive disproportionality in sentencing between small-time drug dealers and violent criminals; the former could potentially receive a maximum of 25 years in jail, compared with 15 years for armed robbery and just 14 years for rape. This, according to InSight Crime, has had an adverse effect on Mexico’s prison system which has been suffering from serious overcrowding in recent years. The most recent figures from this year show that there are 254,108 people in the prison system, despite the capacity of penitentiaries nationwide only being 199,924. A separate 2012 CIDE study which sampled 726 men and 95 women in federal prisons found that 60 percent were incarcerated for drug-related crimes (a figure that rose even higher for women alone, at 80 percent).

There is seemingly scope, however, to reform this failed approach, albeit modestly. In February 2015,  a bill was introduced to the Legislative Assembly which proposes firmly decriminalizing possession of five grams of marijuana in Mexico City with no threat of being detained as there is under the current law, as well introducing points of sale for the drug which would be regulated by the city. Furthermore, in June Mexico's president, Enrique Peña Nieto, suggested he may be open to legalizing marijuana nationally, not necessarily because it was a policy he believed in, but because reform measures elsewhere in the region and the failures of prohibition were making Mexico's position untenable.

Quite where Mexico takes its drug policy in the future remains to be seen, but it is clear that the current approach toward low-level drug possession and use has failed, in spite of its attempts to decriminalize these acts.

18 comments:

  1. Chivis, thanks a lot for this report. It illustrates one more of the big lies used by people trying to take shots at the US saying Mexico is "way ahead of the US in decriminalization," pointing to this 2009 law analyzed here.

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    1. Exactly. and also those who don't even know that mexico decriminalized long ago.

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    2. It's not a lie, sales were not legalized only possession.

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    3. I posted a comment on the Global drug legalization article of why won't they decriminalize all drugs. Thanks for clarifying Chivis 😉

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    4. Dragging the truth about who your dealer is not illegal, people get "interrogated" with enhanced methods until they make something up, and deliver the sellers and their capos.
      And some wise assessment trying to exonerate this or that, if the US were not supporting the Mexican "law enforcement" there would be less crime in mexico, the suport and training the US provides Mexican police officers to strengthen the Mexican narco-government is not welcome by the Mexicans they have victimized since they stole the Mexican revolution for their own profit making sure their masters get and keep about 90% of the mexico taco and turning everybody else into beggars or drug traffickers or illegal alien expatriates or government lobotomized robots.

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  2. Decriminalizing drugs seems to be a decent step into weakening the black market but Mexico needs to work on its national culture; which would then positively affect its cartel/crime problem. One could suggest that banning narco corridos is a step in the right direction(one could also argue that its authoritian as well) but to make a positive impact in Mexican culture I think would require an increase in the average IQ, through, an increase of education. That'll Equip them with the capability to realize the consequences of their action, and how to deal with these problems before they become a reality.

    That and maybe a supplementary national increase in religiousity. Maybe that'll adjust their moral compass and give Mexicans a moral obligation to not slaughter each other or to not pump drugs into their neighborhoods/nation.

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    1. What you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone is now dumber for having read it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

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    2. You attacked me but not my argument. That just shows how much of a vapid emotional fool you are, but thanks for adding to the conversation.

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    3. Your argument está bien pendejo because:
      If it is no illegal to posess a personal stash, more people will be forced to do it, and they will be forced to deliver their pusher and all will be extorted.
      There is NO incentive for the polesias to suddenly become some Mother Mheresas and they won't. Hope I made you happy, GTFOH.

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  3. 1:47... Mexicans have been visited by the devil . the only answer to these social issues is to stop breeding. that is one way to end the desperation many poor mexicans have been living with. the cycle of having no money with 5 or more kids has not changed for as long as my grandma can remember..

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    1. You and grandma need to do a little research before posting such irrational unfounded comments. Mexico's birthrate has dramatically declined sine the 60s and has been on par with the U.S. for quite a while.

      US= 2.6
      Mexico= 2.17

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    2. I've had that thought myself. That would cure mexicos problem but the average person would never consider that.

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    3. 3:46 depopulation programs all over the world designed and implemented by the demented 1%ers and their trillions of dollars...people could have less kids with some education, but nature has its way of compensating, the more people are oppressed the more kids they bring to the world, to enjoy christian conservatism, drone bombings, poison gases machine gun fire and famine somewhere far from their homes, but don' worry, the world is about to be saved by the man that wears his Red Cape on the front, ready to spend one more trillion dollars of US treasury on re-starting the nuclear race for profit...he will need the commissions to offshore somewhere safe, while his campaign millions pay for his whores silence and his "famiglia lawyers"

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  4. Mexico has reaped what it sowed. 30 yrs of gov greed. End of story.

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  5. El pinche copetes ya se va a chingar a su puta madre.
    But lest make this clear, in Mexico you can be caught with no grifa on you, and you will be loaded with a half a kilo just to make you pay a lot of money, and you will gladly sign your confession after your assistance is investigated with the catitle prod, or before from just looking at it.
    The only visible result of "liberalizing" drug possession is that more people are enticed to become pinchis grameros, always ready to sell their small stash, like on all US junior high schools, high schools, collidges, and uniberzitiez of "higher lorneing"

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  6. Well, it's certainly confusing for us Gringos. MJ 'Dispensaries' opened in a few spots after the law passed. The Cops did not interfere, but they warned the owner that they could not protect them from the mafia. The mafia then distributed some of the shop's products to an elementary school and the parents quickly closed the dispensaries. The cops again, did nothing.

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    1. 7:10 please see the smug smiles of Bill Maher somewhere...
      Legal Dispensaries becoming School Magnets?
      I think you could find warnings somewhere on BBs archivees.

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