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Mexico gives pass on 'personal' drugs

People caught with small amounts will not face prosecution.

August 21, 2009|Associated Press

MEXICO CITY — Mexico has enacted a controversial law that decriminalizes possession of small amounts of marijuana, cocaine and heroin.

The law defines "personal use" amounts for those drugs, as well as LSD and methamphetamines.

It says people found with drugs within those limits will not face prosecution, but will be urged to seek treatment. And if caught a third time, they will be required to complete treatment programs. No punishment is specified. The original proposal required first-time offenders to complete treatment or face jail time.

Mexican authorities said the change just recognized the long-standing practice here of not prosecuting people caught with small amounts of drugs that were for personal use, while setting rules and limits.

The law, enacted Thursday, takes effect today.

The maximum amount of marijuana considered to be for "personal use" under the new law is 5 grams, the equivalent of about four marijuana cigarettes. The limit for cocaine is half a gram, the equivalent of about four "lines." For other drugs, the limits are 50 milligrams for heroin, 40 milligrams for methamphetamine and 0.015 milligrams for LSD.

The U.S. government publicly criticized a similar bill proposed in Mexico in 2006. Then-President Vicente Fox sent that legislation back to Congress for reconsideration.

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