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Thread: The year Mexico legalised drugs

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    The year Mexico legalised drugs 
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    The year Mexico legalised drugs
    Benjamin Smith
    History Extra
    June 19th, 2018

    On 5 January 1940, Mexico's left-wing president, Lazaro Cardenas, signed the new Federal Regulation of Drug Addiction into law. The new legislation was truly revolutionary: it swept away the old punitive edicts on drugs offences, authorised doctors to prescribe narcotics to addicts, established out-patient clinics to help these addicts, and made broader pleas to treat addicts as ill rather than as criminals.

    Yet, despite being deemed a major success, within six months the legislation was overturned. Here, Dr Benjamin Smith investigates...

    Less than a month after the new Federal Regulation of Drug Addiction was signed into law, it had taken effect. The selling and purchasing of small amounts of drugs, including marijuana, cocaine and heroin, were effectively decriminalised. Small-scale drugs offenders were released from prison and the city's drug addiction clinics. Police officers dramatically reduced arrests for drug crimes, and half a dozen drug dispensaries were established throughout Mexico City.

    Some conservative Mexican journalists thought the measure risked causing a nationwide crime wave. But, most deemed it a major success. By mid-March 1940 at least 1,000 addicts attended these dispensaries each day, buying small, controlled doses of cocaine and morphine under medical supervision and at market value. Doctors and journalists spoke out in favour of the change. "To attract [the drug addict] rather than persecute him, to register him and make him submit to medical and psychological treatment? will constitute a fundamental means of combatting addiction". So did drug addicts. A homeless heroin addict known as Rompepechos testified: "We only want that they say the truth? that they dose us according to our physical state so we can reintegrate into society and return to our jobs. Now they are doing this. Tell your readers that we are thankful to the Health Department, very thankful".

    The cheap prices that these clinics offered also crippled the illegal trade. The government morphine cost 3.20 pesos a gram. On the street, the same amount of heroin cost between 45 and 50 pesos. Furthermore it was heavily diluted with lactose, carbonate of soda and quinine. A pure gram probably cost nearer 500 pesos. Such low prices undercut the dealers. Mexico City's pushers were losing 8,000 pesos a day.
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    It blows my mind that Mexico pulled this off way back in 1940! I had never heard of this before, but came across it while reading about Mexico's new president. The doctor who pushed for this policy, Salazar, was way ahead of his time.

    It's no surprise that it was largely U.S. pressure that led the policy to its quick end... especially since it was during Anslinger's tenure.
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    #3
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    Very good read. Drugs will always be illegal if the US has anything to do with it . My friend is in jail now for a quarter bag of pot .
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