Sixteen months after Mexican President Vicente Fox declared “the mother of all battles” against drug trafficking, Mexico is increasingly awash in drug violence and is now turning to a new, and controversial, approach: decriminalization, the Washington Post reports. Fox is expected to sign a bill passed by the legislature last week that decriminalizes possession of small amounts of some of the most popular illegal drugs. Penalties would be erased for possessing 500 milligrams of cocaine, 5 grams of marijuana, 5 grams of raw opium and 25 milligrams of heroin, among other drugs. The measure, which has surprised and angered U.S. anti-drug groups, is intended to further shift the focus of Mexico’s sputtering drug battle from users to traffickers.
Mayor Jerry Sanders of San Diego, the largest U.S. border city, said the timing of the measure could imperil efforts to reform immigration law in the United States: “This really stirs things up,” he said. Sanders, a former San Diego Police chief, called the law “appallingly stupid, reckless and incredibly dangerous” and predicted that it would lead to a flood of teenagers trying to sneak into his city from Mexico with illegal drugs.