Never Really Been but I'd Sure Like to Go

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Mexican President Vicente Fox says he will sign a bill passed by the Mexican Congress last week that will decriminalize possession of small amounts of various illegal drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, opium, heroin, amphetamines, MDMA, LSD, and peyote. Originally intended to keep addicts out of jail, the legislation was later broadened to cover all adult consumers. It eliminates criminal penalties for amounts below the drug-specific thresholds, but states could impose their own fines, and public consumption and sales would remain illegal.

On the face of it, the new policy looks like a substantial improvement. According to the Los Angeles Times, the law "would be among the most permissive in the world, putting Mexico in the company of the Netherlands." The Dutch government tolerates the retail sale of cannabis and psilocybin mushrooms but bans possession and sale of most of the drugs covered by the Mexican law. But in addition to liberalizing treatment of drug users, the law expands the drug enforcement powers of local police–including the power to stop drug users and make sure their stashes are below the legal limits–and increases penalties for selling drugs near schools.

One positive sign: The U.S. government is upset. "Any country that embarks on policies that encourage drug use will get more drug use and more drug addiction," said Tom Riley, a spokesman for the Office of National Drug Control Policy. "Many countries, including the U.S. and Mexico, see the drug problem as a trafficking problem. But the real problem isn't trafficking, it's drug use. The costs of drug addiction are staggering."

Riley has a point, although it's rather strange to hear a U.S. drug warrior make it, since federal and state laws in this country routinely treat selling drugs as a worse crime than using them. If drug use is the evil the law is aimed at preventing, punishing sellers more severely than users is rather like punishing murder accomplices more severely than murderers.

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  1. This will do great things for spring break on South Padre Island. (Matamoros is a 30-minute drive from Padre.)

  2. If Fox would just get rid of Mexico’s insane gun laws (a complete ban with long prison sentences for the mere possession of a gun) perhaps the Mexican people could defend themselves from the drug lords and the kidnapping rings and they could start to fix that shit hole they have built.

  3. So who do legal Mexican recreational drug purchasers buy from?

  4. Any country that embarks on policies that encourage drug use . . .

    Doncha love the way not throwing people in jail for something is the same thing as “encouraging” them?

  5. Yeah RC,

    Legalizing drugs is encouraging drug use, but allowing a casino on every corner is not encouraging compulsive gambling at all.

  6. Oh man are the Tijuana police going to be raking it from dumb teenagers this summer.

    Folks, do not be stupid. Avoid drug possession in Tijuana unless you want a $200 “police escort” to the border.

  7. the law expands the drug enforcement powers of local police

    This appears to be the whole reason behind the law. Local police in Mexico are corrupt beyond belief; not quite to the point of Afghani warlords, but this will certainly give them more opportunity to be.

    Be careful what you wish for, I guess.

  8. http://reuters.myway.com/article/20060502/2006-05-02T162238Z_01_N02202708_RTRIDST_0_NEWS-MEXICO-DRUGS-DC.html

    Under current law, it is up to local judges and police to decide on a case-by-case basis whether people should be prosecuted for possessing small quantities of drugs

    Actually, taking away discretion makes it less chance for corruption now, not more. Of course they can always do what American cops do, and plant more drugs on you.

  9. John,

    Your point is only valid if you accept the premise that our constitutional republic is based on positive rights (where you start with no right to do anything, and the government doles out permissions as it sees fit). Sure—if we banned sex today, then you could make the point that legalizing it tomorrow is “encouraging sex”, but that doesn’t mean your point is valid from a negative-rights point of view.

    “”Many countries, including the U.S. and Mexico, see the drug problem as a trafficking problem. But the real problem isn’t trafficking, it’s drug use. The costs of drug addiction are staggering.”

    I know. Look at how much alcohol addiction costs. And nicotine, too. Good thing you can’t get ahold of them.

    Shit, you want to talk about “staggering costs”, cockface? How about the costs of criminalizing natural substances that the US government subjectively declares evil? How much does the War on Unapproved Drugs cost every year? You think it’s more, or less, than “the cost of addiction”? I know where my wager lies.

    Jesus, the hubris of these drug warrior bastards. Blathering on about “costs” of addiction with a straight face. Fuck you. Just, fuck you.

    “If drug use is the evil the law is aimed at preventing, punishing sellers more severely than users is rather like punishing murder accomplices more severely than murderers.”

    True, dat. Well, I’d amend that to be more like: “…is rather like punishing the ones who supply the murder weapon more severely than murderers.”

  10. [cracks happyjuggler on the skull for stretching the margins with his stupid http address]

  11. juggler: learn some HTML code, boy. Inline html links are fun!

  12. OT, but Moussaoui was sentenced to life in prison: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12615601?GT1=8199

  13. One thing that bothers me about taking cruises is having to go a week without any herb. It’s just too risky to bring any back on the ship with you from the mexican ports. Last time i went there was this kid with his parents who got busted by the mexican feds in cabo while waiting to re-board and they hauled him and his parents off. Maybe after this I’ll be able to pull it off.

  14. juggler: learn some HTML code, boy

    Evan: Learn to use control c and control v. I had no problem copying and pasting the link. I consider myself fortunate to know how to use bold and italics. If you want to give me a link that will teach me to use a Inline html link then feel free to do so.

    Also Evan, being mean and cursing etc. are not good ways to persuade people of anything other than that you are someone to ignore. Many of us could care less, but more people than you might think are offended, which is normally the point of swearing at someone….

    Do you want legal drugs or not? If so, some “decent” persuasive skills might come in handy.

  15. happyjuggler,

    Before the link type

    <a href=”

    and after add

    “>

    then put in the text you want linked and close it off with a </a>

    What you’ll wind up typing will be something like:

    Here is a sentence with <a href=”http://whatever”>a link</a> inside it.

    In preview you should be able to see the link. If you are using a browser that supports tabbed browsing you can even open the link in a new tab to make sure it works before you post.

    May I have my legal drugs now please?

  16. Riley has a point, although it’s rather strange to hear a U.S. drug warrior make it, since federal and state laws in this country routinely treat selling drugs as a worse crime than using them.

    That policy matches our mentality better. Bad choices are never anyone’s own fault if someone else can be blamed. It fits right in with blaming tobacco companies, gun manufacturers, fast fast restaurants etc.

  17. Any country that embarks on on policies that encourage nonessential government services will get more government and more government addiction.

  18. The reason the laws in every jurisdiction around the world treat drug sales as worse than drug use is that the seller is presumed to be facilitating several users, and the user only hir own use.

  19. Evan,

    I wouldn’t want to ban gambling. My only point is that gambling is probably more addictive than drugs and the same people who think that legalizing drugs would be a disaster have no problem with the local Indians opening a casino down the street. Truthfully, most people wouldn’t use drugs even if they were legal and legalized gambling creates a lot more compulsive gamblers than legalized drugs would create drug addicts. Not that that necessarily justifies banning them both. It just shows how hypacritical people are.

  20. “If drug use is the evil the law is aimed at preventing, punishing sellers more severely than users is rather like punishing murder accomplices more severely than murderers.”

    Er, don’t give them any ideas, dude.

  21. Actually, taking away discretion makes it less chance for corruption now, not more.

    That may be true, especially on the judicial side.

    But I was basing my opinion on this paragraph from the article:

    Lawmakers who voted for decriminalization, some of whom have expressed surprise over the details of the bill, said it would for the first time empower local police to make drug arrests and allow law enforcement in general to focus on intercepting large drug shipments and major traffickers. The bill also would stiffen penalties for selling drugs near schools and authorize state and local police to detain users to check whether amounts were over the legal limit.

    They just opened up a whole new profit center for the notoriously corrupt local police forces.

  22. Woooooo hooooooooo!!!!! It worked. Thanks to my fellow juggler. 🙂

  23. OK. I admit it. I can’t juggle five objects, so I’m more of a hack than a juggler. Still, where are my legal drugs!?

  24. Still, where are my legal drugs!?

    Mexico. Duh! 😮

  25. Here’s an interesting take on it:
    http://www.humaneventsonline.com/article.php?id=14476:
    “A more comprehensive analysis of this move tells us that this is actually designed to ‘cure’ the immigration problem by scaring us with the drug law. It’s actually less of a drug law than a stealth immigration law. They expect us to offer a deal in which we agree to some kind of amnesty for our Mexican illegals and they repeal that law or find a way to reinterpret it into nonexistence.”

    juggler: learn some HTML code, boy.
    I prefer seeing URLs written out (as above) and happyjuggler0’s didn’t mess with my margins or cause any problems with cut/pasting.

    They just opened up a whole new profit center for the notoriously corrupt local police forces.
    A friend (a Mexican Anglo) was smoking a joint on the beach and a cop came up as if to arrest him, so he just offered the cop a hit, which he took. If that’s corruption, go for it!

  26. I have not read all the posts here, so somebody might have already said this, but here goes: The corrupt Mexican cops are going to have a field day extorting bribe money out of the stupid gringos who go south to smoke some pot. I can just see the gold tooth of the Federale glinting in the sun as he smilingly tells the stoned, empty headed, American college girl that she has “one gram too many”…

    Mexico is a lovely country, but it is a real shit-hole of corruption and I plan to keep my money north of the border.

  27. Riley has a point, although it’s rather strange to hear a U.S. drug warrior make it, since federal and state laws in this country routinely treat selling drugs as a worse crime than using them. If drug use is the evil the law is aimed at preventing, punishing sellers more severely than users is rather like punishing murder accomplices more severely than murderers.

    OK, but remember that the Commerce Clause is what the drug warriors use to justify Federal involvement in this anyway, so they really have to focus on selling rather than posession.

  28. Mr. F. Le Mur,

    Long enough URLs will indeed cause trouble with margins.

    I think most browsers will show you the URL for the link that you’re hovering over. Additionally, shift-clicking or right clicking a link will typically give you the option of copying the URL so you can paste it somewhere if that’s what you want to do.

    As such, posting a proper link rather than just a URL gives you a way to get everything that just posting the URL would give you and has the side-benefits of being trivially clickable and not messing with the margins. I think most people have a legitimate reason to prefer true links.

    The biggest downside to including links is that the H&R filter rejects articles with too many (more than one?) link.

    db,

    I wish you were right, but there hasn’t been a need to sell something in order for Congress to regulate it for a long time, Lopez notwithstanding.

  29. happyjuggler:

    “Also Evan, being mean and cursing etc. are not good ways to persuade people of anything other than that you are someone to ignore. Many of us could care less, but more people than you might think are offended, which is normally the point of swearing at someone….

    Do you want legal drugs or not? If so, some “decent” persuasive skills might come in handy.”

    First off, I have a hard time being nice to the crooked drug warriors. Second, my cursing is rather tongue-in-cheek. Third, this is a freakin’ (see? I didn’t curse!) comment forum on a libertarian blog—not primetime teevee or a college forum. If I want to vent my frustration with certain idiots, I could think of worse places to do so. I think of these forums, most of the time, as more casual conversation than formal debate. Fourth, chizzzzillll.

  30. Evan,

    Looking back I see that while your post was addressed to a poster, you were quoting from the article in italics, not from a poster. It was only then that you started mouthing off. That makes a big difference in my book. Vent away.

  31. Damn, i did something wrong. Hold on.

  32. I wasn’t yet ready to start heading for Rocky Point yet. Why? Because when it comes to the drug war, I have a “I’ll believe it when I see it,” skepticism regarding the dissent regarding federal drug orthodoxy. And we got all giddy. Shame on us because we are fucking smarter than that. We completely forgot how much the rest of the world fears our federal government. That is what is so scary to me. And we get to impotently mock them…. ya fucking whoooo!

    http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/americas/05/03/mexico.drugs.ap/index.html

  33. I need to take a vacation

  34. Bush to Fox: “Must. Stomp. On. Liberty. Wherever. It. Raises. Its. Ugly. Head.”

  35. “But in addition to liberalizing treatment of drug users, the law expands the drug enforcement powers of local police–including the power to stop drug users and make sure their stashes are below the legal limits–and increases penalties for selling drugs near schools.”

    Speaking as a, er, interstate commerce-head:

    Deal.

  36. Not to change the subject, but nice James Taylor reference in the article header. “Way down here…”

  37. Just in: Fox is now backpedaling!

    I’d love to know who got to him…

  38. Well, that was fast.

  39. The biggest downside to including links is that the H&R filter rejects articles with too many (more than one?) link.
    That happens even if they’re not HREF’s.
    Borders and such: depends on the HTML and the browser; here, Opera doesn’t change the borders and wraps the text at non-letter characters. In situations like this (HnR), I prefer seeing the URL right there, rather than ‘hovering’ to see it, because it matters whether it’s something like a CNN article vs someone’s pet blog.

    Clearly the gubmint needs to step in and force everyone to do everything exactly the same way.

  40. joe,

    Not sure I understand your point. Drug war enforcement in Mexico is basically federale turf. This proposal in effect expands drug enforcement to also include local cops, which means expanding the drug war. I thought you were against the drug war. Perhaps I misinterpreted your posts in the past?

  41. Because the US threatened to invade and occupy the imminent narco-terrorist threat, mexico has flip-flopped and “drugs are bad, mmmkay” remains the status quo down yonder.

    Plus mexico probably didn’t want an illegal immigration problem.

  42. Many many years ago, a couple of my friends went to Aspen for a few days. They were hanging out in some little bar, and stepped outside to smoke a joint. Fairly common practice, at the time.

    They were standing under a tree, peacefully passing the thing back and forth and gazing up at the night sky, when a newcomer arrived. They were about to offer him a hit (the neighborly thing to do) when they realized it was an Aspen cop. He gave them a disapproving look, and held out his hand. When they turned over the bag of pot, the cop turned it upside down and dumped it on the sidewalk. He then said something along the lines of: “you kids should know better,” and left.

    Now how the hell are you ever going to get a multi-million dollar HDS block grant like that?

  43. One thing that bothers me about taking cruises is having to go a week without any herb.

    Kip, if you’re still reading this, on a weekend cruise to Ensenada our group brought muffins and pastries made with weed butter. Also brought back the uneaten ones thru US Customs with no problem.

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