Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

Drugs: U.S. versus Mexico

Written By: Jason Shafrin - May• 04•06

Less than two weeks ago, the New York Times (“Report Illumintes Wide Divide…“) reported that FDA has denied that there are any medicinal benefits to marijuana. The article continues stating:

While it has always been the drug enforcement agency’s policy to enforce laws against marijuana, [DEA spokeswomen] Ms. Waite said, “now it’s clearly out there, so that people don’t have to look everywhere to figure this out.”

Currently, eleven states have legalized medical marijuana. They are: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Islande, Vermont, and Washington. Nevertheless, the U.S. penal code states that:

…any person can be imprisoned for up to one year for possession of one marijuana cigarette and imprsoned for up to five years for growing a single marijuana plant.

One the other hand, yesterday, Mexican President Vicente Fox announced that he would sign a bill which would legalize most drugs currently deemed illegal in the United States. The L.A. Times (“Mexico to Allow Use of Drugs“) finds that under the new law

Selling drugs or using them in public still would be a crime in Mexico. Anyone possessing drugs still could be held for questioning by police, and each state could impose fines even on the permitted quantities, the bill stipulates. But it includes no imprisonment penalties.

If you are keeping score at home, libertarians win one in Mexico, lose one in the U.S.

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  1. k says:

    Since when has Arkansas allowed medical marijuana? Did you mean Alaska

  2. Michael Ewens says:

    Actually, the law as written is not very libertarian. The Reason blog points out:

    But in addition to liberalizing treatment of drug users, the law expands the drug enforcement powers of local police–including the power to stop drug users and make sure their stashes are below the legal limits–and increases penalties for selling drugs near schools.

    Of course, libertarians love it when ridiculous vice laws such as drug laws are eliminated. However, simply lowering penalties doesn’t get at the root of the problem: the laws are completely invalid. The long run result is unclear. Will Mexico move to complete decriminalization or simply use this law as an excuse for further intrusions into drug use beyond the “legal” limit.

    Just suppose that beer drinking was illegal last week. Then suppose that we are now allowed one six-pack a person. The government plans to strongly enforce this rule. Can you imagine?

  3. Jason Shafrin says:

    Arkansas has not allowed medical marijuana, but Alaska has. I have now corrected this on the post. My apologies for the inaccuracy. I’m slipping on my postal abbreviations.

  4. […] Earlier I posted that Mexico would pass a bill decriminalizing drug use.  Late last night, howeer,  President Vicente Fox decided not to approve the Mexican law which would have decriminalized minor drug use.  The Chicago Tribune (”Mexico’s Fox retreats…“) implied that this reversal was due significant pressure exerted by the U.S. on Mr. Fox. […]