Want to Do Drugs? Go to Mexico: Now Small Amounts are Legal!

Parents will be delighted to learn that their college students now have a legal place to experiment with hard drugs. And it's just across the border.

No joke. Yesterday, Mexican President Felipe Calderon signed a controversial bill into law that will decriminalize the possession of small amounts of drugs, including pot and hard drugs like heroin, cocaine, LSD and meth -- basically, the works.

By legalizing possession of small amounts of drugs, Mexican lawmakers hope to help law enforcement separate casual users from addicts. But it's not necessarily related to the old jail-or-treatment debate.

The old law gave Mexican cops the choice of either taking in offenders or telling them to get treatment, the result usually being that small-time users are pinched for la mordida -- a bribe. Officials expect the new rules to reduce rampant police corruption.

The decision was also influenced by the drug war--which has killed about 11,000 since Calderon took office in 2006--and the rise of drug users in Mexico.

Here's how it'll work: First and second-time users caught by police will be asked to seek treatment rather than be thrown in jail. If they're caught a third time, they might be required to seek treatment.

To say that Arizona law enforcement's pissed off by the new law is an understatement.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio -- who used to head the Arizona Enforcement Administration in Arizona -- says the new policy is "disgusting.

"I'm very surprised that Mexico -- having dealt with Mexico for many, many years -- would come up with this policy." Arpaio told earlier today. "I want to know what the Obama Administration says about this policy."

Mark Spencer, head of Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, says the new law is just going to help drug cartels.

"What you're doing by decriminalizing hard-narcotic drugs is just creating a low-level market cartels can fill with their products." he says. "I think it'll have a serious and dangerous ripple effect into the city of Phoenix, and officers will be the first to see that ripple."

Then again, the quasi-legal status of marijuana in the Netherlands hasn't had a dangerous ripple effect. It's also safe to say that the careers of President Obama and former President Bush would have been more damaged by a drug conviction than their actual use of illegal drugs.

According to the bill, possession of heroin will be limited to 50 grams, methamphetamine to 40 milligrams, and LSD to 0.015 milligrams. Pot-heads can squeeze in about four joints (5 grams) and coke-heads about four lines (half-a-gram).

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Malia Politzer
Contact: Malia Politzer