Felipe Calderón waited months after congressional and senatorial approval before signing the bill to decriminalize drugs, but today in Mexico they are legal to possess and use. Most conservatives cringe at the thought, but several historically famous conservatives adamantly support legalization and have made very compelling arguments to support abolishing prohibition. Although Mexico's stance has in fact been not to arrest for possession of small quantities, on legalizatio, is Mexico ahead of the curve?
On Thursday, the Mexican President signed into law a controversial piece of legislation that decriminalizes possession of small amounts of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, LSD and methamphetamine and yet at the same time promotes drug dependency treatments funded entirely by the government
The law sets limits on how much citizens can possess for “personal use.” When caught in first and second offenses, those citizens possessing within limits, will be encouraged to enter a treatment program and those caught a third time must enter a program.
The “personal use” maximum under the new law is 5 grams, about four joints. Other threshold amounts are: Cocaine - one half a gram, heroin - 50 milligrams, methamphetamine – 40 milligrams, and 0.015 milligrams of acid (LSD).
The question of legalization is one that has been debated since the dawn of civilization. The argument to legalize drugs is a sincerely difficult one to win, and one with many very famous supporters. Authors such as, Timothy Leary, Lewis Armstrong, Jules Vern, Robert Lewis Stevenson, Aldous Huxley, Sir Walter Scott and Terence McKenna believed what persons do in private should not be regulated by the government.
William F. Buckley Jr. argued supremely that, “If all our laws were paradigmatic, imagine what we would do to anyone caught lighting a cigarette, or drinking a beer. Or exulting in life, in the paradigm, committing adultery. Send them all to Guantanamo?” Buckley’s argument was one of consistency, legal and exampled reality, illustrated by several countries around the world.
Milton Friedman, arguably one of the most brilliant monetarists ever to have lived was also a proponent of legalization, debating not surprisingly on the basis of the cost of prohibition, but also acknowledging the moral and logical dilemmas that illegality creates.
At 92 years of age, Friedman, along with two other Nobel Prize winning economists, key-stoned (pun intended) a movement along with to bring the argument to end prohibition to the forefront of government and society. Forbes magazine has run several pieces on the benefits of legalization, publishing articles such as “Inside dope” a report on the financial opportunities that would be afforded by ending prohibition.
The philosopher John Stuart Mill who maintained that the government had no right to to limit individuals from harming themselves, no one else was harmed as a result. He said, ”Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign [and] the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant.” This is also the argument made famous by Aleister Crowley when he debated the right to recreational drug use.
Terence Kemp McKenna said, “We're playing with half a deck as long as we tolerate that the cardinals of government and science should dictate where human curiosity can legitimately send its attention and where it cannot. It's an essentially preposterous situation. It is essentially a civil rights issue, because what we're talking about here is the repression of a religious sensibility - In fact, not a religious sensibility, the religious sensibility.”
Former Presidential Candidate, Libertatian Ron Paul argues cogently that Drugs should be legalized. During his Presidential run CNN, ABC and others interviewed Mr. Paul to marginalize him, but perhaps listening to his logic would make more sense.
Whether Mexico decides to capitalize monetarily and utilize those resources for positive outcomes will be the true test of the success or failure of this legislation, but if they don’t succeed it may be more about the structure of their developing country rather than that they have made an immoral or unwise decision.
What do you think about Mexico’s drug legalization, let me know?