Saturday, May 13, 2006

South of the border

I never weighed in Mexico's dance around decrim last week. It all happened so fast and now its gone like a summer thunderstorm. But Mark Kleiman had a great analysis that's still worth posting for the archives.

NBC News called this morning. Could they come interview me about Mexican drug decriminalization? Sure, I said, but as far as I can tell decriminalization isn't what happened. Fine, they said, we'll be right over.

So I made on camera pretty much the same points I'd made on the radio:

1. The new law would expand the number of police who can make drug arrests.

2. The new law would free users caught with small quantities from going to jail, but not from arrest.

3. The Federales probably weren't in the habit of arresting users for possessing small amounts, any more than the DEA is.

4. The new law more or less tracks California law, and the law in many other states: users, if arrested, get diverted from the criminal justice system.
Unfortunately his sensible POV didn't make it to the segment. The program chose to air the prohib's alarmist views instead.

I loved all the tortured scenarios about drug tourism myself. Have none of these people ever been to Mexico? They already do drug tourism and very well thank you. Discrete personal use has long been tolerated, among tourists anyway. And thousands of white middle class southern Californians travel to Tijuana daily to pick up their much more reaonably priced pharmaceuticals, among other goods and services. This law would have had no practical impact on the US and it was none of our business besides.

I don't have much to add at this point except I think it's a damn shame that Mexico and Canada have both allowed themselves to be bullied by the Bush administration into retreating from progressive and common sense drug approaches and into adopting the failed regressive policies of the US.


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