Mexico has decriminalized the possession of drugs—pretty much all of them:
Mexico enacted a controversial law on Thursday decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, cocaine, heroin and other drugs while encouraging government-financed treatment for drug dependency free of charge.
The law sets out maximum “personal use” amounts for drugs, also including LSD and methamphetamine. People detained with those quantities will no longer face criminal prosecution; the law goes into effect on Friday.
The laws of physics, nature, and capitalism are all completely different across the border: that is what the drug czar will tell us when people suggest we follow Mexico's lead. But Mexico will be no worse off for decriminalizing drugs. Buses will run, families will grow, students will go to school. Things may even be better in Mexico; that's what has happened in other countries. In Portugal, which decriminalized drugs in 2001, "illegal drug use among teens in Portugal declined and rates of new HIV infections caused by sharing of dirty needles dropped, while the number of people seeking treatment for drug addiction more than doubled," Time Magazine reported in April.
So some Americans will audaciously point to Mexico—which is not across the ocean, but a few blocks from some metropolitan centers in the US—as an example of better laws that we can enact here. But our federal government will say it's impossible. They'll stick to the old hackneyed talking points that changing the laws would encourage drug use among young people and wreak havoc on society. Legalization won't be in their vocabulary, even when it's within eyesight.
Any hope for sensible drug policy isn't at the national level (and it never has been), it's at the state level, with folks like the lawmakers who wrote an op-ed today calling to decriminalize marijuana in Washington or voters passing an initiative. Our best hope is that the Obama Administration will stay out of it.
In the meantime, have fun vacationing in Mexico.
Tip from Chris