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Mexico lawmakers take up drug decriminalization bill again after veto threat

[JURIST] Mexican lawmakers began working this week to revive a bill that will decriminalize personal drug possession – or possession of small amounts of marijuana, cocaine and heroin. Lawmakers hope to override a potential veto by Mexican President Vicente Fox [official website, in Spanish], who announced plans to sign the bill, but then reversed his position [JURIST reports] after the US State Department and mayors from several US border cities argued that decriminalization will promote "drug tourism" by prompting masses of young Americans to travel to Mexico to buy illegal drugs. The Mexican Congress approved the bill in April [AP report], but Fox sent it back for changes "to make it absolutely clear in our country, the possession of drugs and their consumption are, and will continue to be, a criminal offense."

Under current Mexican law, the federal government handles drug-dealing crimes. The bill would enable local police to investigate drug dealers, along with federal officers. The legislation would increase penalties for large amounts of drugs while decriminalizing possession of less than 25 milligrams of heroin, 5 grams of marijuana or 0.5 grams of cocaine. According to Victor Guisa, head of the government's drug rehabilitation clinics, crack is the biggest problem in the cities, leading to gang violence and more than 1,500 drug-related murders last year. Mexican Attorney General Daniel Cabeza de Vaca [official profile] said most drug-related crimes involve street dealing, as opposed to large trafficking operations. AP has more.

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