Mexico’s new decrim law in effect today

This was tried in 2006, but the U.S. objected and it didn’t pass. But now it’s the law

Anyone caught with drug amounts under the personal-use limit will be encouraged to seek treatment, and for those caught a third time treatment is mandatory — although the law does not specify penalties for noncompliance. […]

“This is not legalization, this is regulating the issue and giving citizens greater legal certainty … for a practice that was already in place,” Espino del Castillo said. […]

The maximum amount of marijuana considered to be for “personal use” under the new law is 5 grams — the equivalent of about four joints. The limit is a half gram for cocaine, the equivalent of about 4 “lines.” For other drugs, the limits are 50 milligrams of heroin, 40 milligrams for methamphetamine and 0.015 milligrams for LSD.

This is a useful step, but a very small one. Of course, it won’t have any impact on the cartels or the violence in any way. It is interesting that the U.S. has not seen fit to throw a fit about it.

[Thanks, Tom]

Update: New York Times headline writer doesn’t get it. Their headline for the AP article: Mexico Legalizes Drug Possession. Um, no. If you’re mandated to attend treatment after being caught the third time with something, it’s not really legal, is it? And possession isn’t even really decriminalized if what you possess happens to be more than 5 grams of pot or more than .015 milligrams of LSD (how do you even measure that?)

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19 Responses to Mexico’s new decrim law in effect today

  1. ezrydn says:

    The question is, when will the street cops, the ones in the trucks, get clued into the law? While it’s good news down here, I’m going to be watching to see how the local police handle the new law.

  2. kaptinemo says:

    EZ, it may turn out that the this is the kind of wedge that cracks the system wide open. When it becomes obvious how pointless it is to try to enforce the penalties on the new laws, the police will stop trying. I fully expect the laws to be applied more against (easily identified) tourists than against locals. And even that could backfire, given how so many touristas are staying away this year.

    A law that cannot be effectively prosecuted becomes a law that loses respect. And the drug laws, based on hypocrisy and racial and ethnic bigotry, merit exactly none.

  3. ezrydn says:

    Six months or a year from now, if the sky hasn’t fallen in, I’m wondering what the other countries are going to say and do. More and more of them are turning away from the childish American attitude of incarceration of casual users.

    Does this new law mean one can sit in the comfort of their own homes and enjoy an evening joint without the “BANG, BANG, BANG” on the front door? That’s what I’m looking to see.

    Since I know some local cops and have had decrim and legalization conversations with them, it’ll be interesting to see what they’ve got to say.

  4. daksya says:

    Is that figure for LSD correct? 0.015 milligrams equals 15 micrograms, which is less than the ED50, never mind that even 25-30 mcgs will hardly get you a trip, let alone four.

  5. ezrydn says:

    I see over at, he’s rallying his followers to take a trip to Mexico. Man, are they gonna be in for a shock. First of all, they’re going to be in the frontera. Not a good place for Americans to find themselves these days. Then, they have to stay out of public view (can you see this happening?) and hope the local cop that stops them knows the new law.

    As I see it, they’re just in a hurry to screw it up for those of us who live down here. Kinda has a “American ring” to it, huh?

  6. Pete says:

    Daksya. It makes little sense to me as well, but that’s the figure I see in every story out there on it (including some foreign press), although almost all of them are the AP story and the AP has been known to get things wrong. I don’t know how to get access to or read the actual bill.

  7. BruceM says:

    How is a cop supposed to measure 50 milligrams on the streets?

    And what about all other drugs. Oxycodone? Ketamine? Morphine? Ecstacy? Fentanyl? There are hundreds if not thousands of drugs in all the various schedules of controlled substances. Do all other substances remain per se illegal regardless of amount? I assume that adulterants still count towards the aggregate weight. So hardly anyone with personal use quantities will be affected by this law since the quantities are so insanely minute.

    Still, good for Mexico – way to stand up to the United States and do what you need to do in order to save your country from utter anarchy, and continued death and destruction (well, it’s a first step). Unfortunately, the conservative Obama administration will do whatever it can to fuck with Mexico to punish them for this lack of fealty.

  8. A bit off topic, but did anyone else see the report on CNN’s crawl that a significant surge in the use of cannabis by baby boomers is expected as more and more of us retire?

    Kinda puts the lie to the conventional wisdom that if you participated in the 60s you couldn’t remember them…

  9. Mike R says:

    Well duh…you weigh out 0.015 milligrams of LSD with a $2500 electronic precision lab balance. They’re all over ebay….

  10. allan420 says:

    @Daniel… I do believe the movement has started.

    Which movement? Aah, the one that The Farm’s Steven Gaskin is preparing for, the retirement of the boomers. Reportedly Steven has purchased property neear the original farm which is possibly to become a farm for like minded retirees. I’ve long envisioned the perfect retirement home… Cannabis Palms©… in fact George McMahon (CIND) (kap may remember some of these converstaions w/ George) and some of us used to commiserate over at DrugSense’s chat room on Sunday early eves… fffffffpp… ‘ere… about buying up a small town with a medical facility, our own police dept… while simultaneously discussing drug policy and long-tailed rabbit bbq recipes, plus the virtual passing of the burning doobie (which then lead to wishes for transporter technology).


  11. Cliff says:

    Well, that’s exactly 5 grams of cannabis, a half gram of cocaine, 50 milligrams of heroin, 40 milligrams of methamphetamine and 0.015 milligrams of LSD more than I’m legally allowed here is the land of the free, USA.

  12. kaptinemo says:

    @ Allen

    Oh, jeez, that was some time ago. I haven’t been back at DS Chat for some time. I ought to stop by and say hello.

    Cannabis Palms. Nice ring to it, so long as there’s real palms. That would have to be located somewhere in ‘Margaritaville’, I’m thinking. Shameful this old ‘Parrothead’ hasn’t been in that neighborhood for many a year, too.

  13. DdC says:

    Obama’s drug czar blames hot weather for medical marijuana lie

    This could not have happened even a year ago.

    Gil Kerlikowske, the United States Drug Czar, has backpedaled on his pronouncement that marijuana “is dangerous and has no medicinal benefit.”

    His original statement was made to The Fresno Bee on July 22. But in a little-noticed interview with Komo 4 News in Washington earlier this month, Kerlikowske was given a second chance to address the question.

    As pointed out by Jacob Sullum at Reason, the nation’s top official on drugs excused his statement by blaming the weather: continued…

    Mexico Decriminalizes Small-Scale Drug Possession
    Mexico decriminalized small amounts of marijuana, cocaine and heroin on Friday — a move that prosecutors say makes sense even in the midst of the government’s grueling battle against drug traffickers.

    This new “reform” is so bad they’re building 12 new prisons!

    The amount that is legal to carry is tiny – five grams or less.

    Plus if you’re a grower you’re probably going to jail – this new reform includes mandatory minimums for most growers.

    They’re building 12 new prisons in anticipation of all the growers they’re going to be throwing in jail: more links

  14. Buc says:

    It is pretty frustrating when people who don’t know about drug policy reform consistently refer to decriminalization as legalization. They interpret the fact that having x amount of cannabis or cocaine or whatever no longer being criminalized as the same thing as being legalized.

    Also, I have no doubt the Calderon people will simply point to this measure after it fails to reduce any violence (which any person with any background in drug policy or economics can tell you) and say, ‘Look, we tried letting people have it and the violence still didn’t go down.’ A lie and a half? Sure, it will be, but what else can you expect from these people

  15. BruceM says:

    Something is either criminal or it’s legal.

    I think the word “decriminalize” sounds better than “legalize” because the former focuses on less government action/intrusion while the latter sounds like its something libertines would support (which is true). So I always use the word decriminalize rather than legalize. But any distinction between the two is a waste of time and misses the point. It should not be illegal, whether that means we need to legalize it or decriminalize it. Half empty, half full.

  16. Pete says:

    Yes, decriminalize can sound better than legalize to some people, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t differences in actual meaning between them in practice.

    “Decriminalize” can mean “legalize,” but it can also mean a partial step that still has penalties — such as in Portugal, where you aren’t sent to jail, but you’re required to attend a tribunal, or in Mexico, where you have to give up your drugs and attend treatment, or in Massachusetts, where you get a fine. And in each of these “decriminalized” situations, selling it will still get your ass thrown in jail.

    In Amsterdam, possession is de facto legalized (under certain conditions involving the coffee shops) through a policy of looking the other way. This means that you hae full legal ability to use it and if a police officer comes in, you don’t have to hide, or give up your pot, or promise to attend treatment. (Note that it is still illegal for the coffee shops to acquire the plant, so the Netherlands is only a partial de facto legalization.)

    Decriminalization is certainly better than throwing people in jail, but ultimately, the only way that we can get rid of the drug war is to have a legal means of manufacture, distribution, possession, and use. That doesn’t mean unregulated, but it must be legal, not merely decriminalized.

  17. ROE says:

    Until we can get through decriminalized to legalized we are still dehumanized.

  18. DdC says:

    When the crime is so minor, having marijuana, and the punishment is so unreasonable, taking people’s homes and years of their lives, as well as a very real Twentieth century shunning, one is forced to look for deeper motives. I have come to believe that it is not the proscription of a substance but the systematic oppression of a certain kind of people. There have been a whole series of decisions made, on local, state and federal levels, to the effect that hippies, by which is meant any committed liberal persons, are undesireable and are to be banned, interdicted, harrassed, discouraged, arrested and pee-tested. It is a blatant use of police power to frighten and intimidate millions of people into giving up a heartfelt spiritual practice and lifestyle.

    There are probably 25 million marijuana smokers in the United States alone, as well as millions more who if not smokers now, are still sentimental about it. The oppression to which I refer is for the purpose of keeping these millions of people off balance to minimize their political power. All those 500,000 pot smokers doing time are out of the political process, present but not able to vote. The urine test is the loyalty oath of the Nineties. The hippies are this season’s Jews, this season’s Reds…

    Who are these people? We are the yeast that makes the dough rise. And it’s not just us, there’s been people like us for centuries. Before there were hippies, there were beatniks, before there beatniks, there were bohemians. The European counterculture ran away from Nazî Germany. They brought hundreds of thousands of artists and musicians and writers into this country. Before that there were people like George Bernard Shaw and Voltaire and all the way back to Socrates. There have always been that fraction of people who have said, “I want to see the truth.”
    — Stephen Gasken

    Thank God for Hippies

  19. BruceM says:

    It’s better policy to require treatment rather than prison, but it still means drugs are illegal. If you refuse to go to and participate in the mandatory treatment program, guess where you go? Jail.

    If the police are looking for drugs, and if they find drugs on your, it means they get confiscated and you get punished, drugs are illegal.

    A little progress doesn’t call for redefining words. It’s like saying there’s a difference between slavery and involuntary servitude because in the latter, if you get caught escaping you only get sent to prison instead of being whipped and beaten. They’re both still slavery.

    Plus, the government gets away with WAAAAAAYYYYYY too much bullshit under the guise of “civil proceedings” (when it’s really criminal punishment) for people as smart as the ones who read this website to implicitly sanction such behavior by distinuishing what it really is with a new word. “Civil proceedings” include things like forfeiture, drivers’ license suspensions, and many other punitive actions that should require criminal-law standards of proof and rules of evidence and confrontation. When the government takes away all your money, and your house, and your car because a joint was found in them, it’s not civil, it’s criminal – no matter what they want to call it. And we shouldn’t in any way distinguish criminal from non-criminal when there is no actual difference. Legalize and decriminalize mean the exact same thing. If some drug warriors want to play a game of semantics where both words mean different things (and to define them based on the type of punishment required is fundamentally asinine), I will not play along.

    Until I can walk into a liquor store, walk past the liquor section, past the beer, past the tobacco, and go into the “opiates” section or the “marijuana” section or the “uppers and downers” section and buy pre-packaged, 100% pure drugs by the pound, drugs are and remain both illegal and criminalized.

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