Pubdate: Fri, 14 Feb 2014
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2014 Los Angeles Times
Author: Richard Fausset


But Bills Introduced in the Mexico City and National Legislatures 
Face a Tough Fight.

MEXICO CITY - Lawmakers in Mexico introduced bills Thursday that 
would create marijuana dispensaries in the capital and increase the 
amount of the drug people across the country could carry for "personal use."

The proposals to Mexico City's Legislative Assembly and the federal 
Congress would amount to a partial "decriminalization" of marijuana, 
advocates said, not full legalization.

The Mexico City bill would instruct police and judges to deprioritize 
the prosecution of marijuana violations in some circumstances.

The measure would create "dissuasion commissions" to which some 
violators could be sent for administrative sanctions, in lieu of the 
traditional criminal court process.

It would also direct the government to designate spaces in the city 
where marijuana could be sold without fear of prosecution under 
certain criteria, including offering potential consumers warnings 
about possible health risks.

The federal bill would allow for the use of medical marijuana, give 
states and the Mexico City government more say in setting drug 
policy, and increase the amount of marijuana allowed for personal use 
from 5 grams to 30.

The measure would also raise personal limits for LSD, methamphetamine 
and cocaine.

"We believe we're making a very important contribution to a global 
debate that has to do with rethinking the issue of drugs," Vidal 
Llerenas, a member of the Mexico City Legislative Assembly and 
sponsor of the local legislation, said at a news conference.

The legalization debate has heated up in Mexico and across Latin 
America in recent months, amid dissatisfaction with the violent 
fallout from U.S.-backed prohibitionist policies in the hemisphere 
and the changing situation in the U.S., where Colorado and Washington 
voted in 2012 to legalize marijuana.

American legalization advocates have also been working to put 
measures on ballots in Florida and California this year.

In Mexico, polls generally show weaker support for liberalizing 
marijuana laws than in the United States, and the bills introduced 
Thursday face serious political challenges.

The newspaper El Universal polled the 66 members of Mexico City's 
legislature and found that only 11 openly expressed support for the 
bill. Thirty were against it, and the rest were either undecided or 
declined to state their preference.

Since passing a law decriminalizing the personal use of small amounts 
of drugs in 2009, Mexico's Congress has been reluctant to green-light 
other pot liberalization bills.

Mexico City is a bastion of social liberalism, having broken ground 
in the nation with the legalization of abortion and gay marriage.

Some observers this week criticized the local marijuana bill as too weak.

In the newspaper Excelsior, columnist Adrian Rueda called it a 
"decaffeinated" effort.

In contrast, Jorge Castaneda, Mexico's former foreign minister, said 
that if Mexico City allowed for what he called a de facto 
legalization of drug sales, "it will have tremendous repercussions 
nationally and internationally."

Cecilia Sanchez of The Times' Mexico City bureau contributed to this report.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom