Could Mexican cities become Latin Amsterdams, flooded by drug users seeking penalty-free tokes and toots, asks the Los Angeles Times? That is the fear of some Mexican officials, especially in northern border states that serve as a mecca for underage drinkers from the United States. The anxiety stems from the Mexican legislature’s vote to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, and other drugs, an effort that in the past proved controversial.
Some critics have suggested that easing the punishment for drug possession sends the wrong message while President Felipe Calderon is waging a bloody war against major narcotics traffickers. The battle between law enforcement authorities and drug suspects has claimed more than 11,000 lives since he took office in late 2006. It was Calderon who proposed the decriminalization legislation. He believes it makes sense to distinguish between small-time users and big-time dealers, while re-targeting major crime-fighting resources away from the consumers and toward the dealers and their drug lord bosses.