Mexico City — Owning marijuana, cocaine and even heroin will no longer be a crime in Mexico if the drugs are carried in small amounts for personal use, under legislation passed by the Congress.
Police will not penalize people for possessing up to 5 grams of marijuana, 5 grams of opium, 25 milligrams of heroin or 500 milligrams of cocaine, under a bill passed by senators late on Thursday and earlier approved by the lower house.
People caught with larger quantities of drugs will be treated as narcotics dealers and face increased jail terms under the plan.
The government says the measure allows police to focus on major drug dealers, and President Fox is expected to sign it into law.
“This law provides more judicial tools for authorities to fight crime,” presidential spokesman Ruben Aguilar said on Friday.
Hundreds of people including several police officers have been killed in the past year as drug cartels battle authorities and compete with each other for control of lucrative cocaine, marijuana and heroin smuggling routes from Mexico into the United States.
The violence has raged mostly in northern Mexico but in recent months has spread south to cities like vacation resort Acapulco.
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, a source at the Senate’s health commission told Reuters.
“The object of this law is to not put consumers in jail, but rather those who sell and poison,” said Sen. Jorge Zermeno of the ruling National Action Party.
Fifty-three senators voted for the bill with 26 votes against it.
Mexico could legalize some drugs for personal use
MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s Congress approved a bill Friday that would legalize drug possession for personal use — decriminalizing the carrying of small amounts of marijuana, cocaine and even heroin.
The only step remaining is the signature of the president, whose office indicates he will sign the measure, despite the implications for the war on drugs.
The bill, approved by the Senate on a 53-26 vote with one abstention, had been approved earlier by the lower house of Congress.
U.S. officials had no immediate reaction on what this means for the fight against drug trafficking, or the vast numbers of American students who visit Mexico on vacation.
“The presidency congratulates the Congress for approving the reforms,” said presidential spokesman Ruben Aguilar. “This law gives police and prosecutors better legal tools to combat drug crimes that do so much damage to our youth and children.”
The bill legalizes possession of small amounts of heroin, cocaine, ecstasy and marijuana.
“No charges will be brought against … addicts or consumers who are found in possession of any narcotic for personal use,” the bill reads.
List of maximum allowable drug quantities approved for personal use by Mexico’s Congress:
Opium: (raw, to be smoked): 5 grams
Heroin: 25 milligrams
Marijuana: 5 grams
Cocaine: 500 milligrams
LSD: .015 milligrams
MDA: 200 milligrams
MDMA (Ecstasy): 200 milligrams
Mescaline: 1 gram
Peyote: 1 kilogram
Psilocybin (concentrate, pure, active ingredient): 100 milligrams
Hallucinogenic mushrooms (raw, off the farm): 250 milligrams
Amphetamines: 100 milligrams
Dexamphetamines: 40 milligrams
Phencyclidine (PCP, or Angel Dust): 7 milligrams
Methamphetamines: 200 milligrams
Nalbuphine (synthetic opiate): 10 milligrams
SOURCE: Associated Press