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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    UA reacts to possible Mex. drug legalization

    While personal amounts of drugs could become legal in Mexico, UA officials are saying it won’t affect the penalties for use in the U.S.

    The UA community is reacting with mixed opinions to a Mexican measure that, if signed by Mexican President Vicente Fox, would make it legal to carry cocaine, heroin and other drugs in personal amounts.

    However, police officials want students to know that regardless of whether a drug becomes legal in another country, the same punishments for violating drug laws in the United States will apply.

    Mexican officials who support the law claim its implementation will allow more Mexican effort and money to be concentrated on violent and powerful drug lords and traffickers.

    Sgt. Eugene Mejia, a University of Arizona Police Department spokesman, said if UA students choose to cross the border to partake in drug use, they should know that being under the influence of drugs in the United States is still a serious crime.

    “”It really doesn’t matter how they obtained (the drugs),”” Mejia said. “”If we run across it in a legal stop, it’s not going to diminish the consequences.””

    Mejia said that if the officer observes someone acting impaired or incapacitated, he might first test to see if alcohol is responsible for the behavior. If the level of alcohol in the person’s system is considered too small to be causing the level of impairment the person is exhibiting, the police can investigate further to find out what the actual cause is.

    Mejia said he does not think legalizing small amounts of drugs could actually be an effective way to diminish drug-related problems in Mexico, because even dabbling with drugs can lead to serious problems.

    “”Small amounts (of drug use) lead to bigger, greater things like addiction,”” Mejia said. “”It just opens the door for greater problems.””

    Fernanda Echavarri, a journalism junior who was raised in Mexico, said she also thinks decriminalizing drugs will cause more problems than it solves.

    “”I think this is the most outrageous idea I’ve heard in Mexican politics, and I’ve heard some outrageous ideas,”” Echavarri said.

    Echavarri said the measure will further contribute to the corruption of Mexican officials.

    “”If people are already getting away with having a mid-sized amount of drugs, it’s going to help the big amounts to get by easier,”” Echavarri said. “”There are border agents who contribute to drug smuggling. If they make little amounts (of drugs) legal, they’ll pass the big amounts little by little.””

    Jesse Yarbrough, a senior majoring in Spanish, disagreed, saying he thinks decriminalizing drugs will actually help reduce the number of drug-related problems and violence in Mexico.

    “”I think it can work,”” Yarbrough said. “”If people don’t need to go to drug lords to buy their drugs, then the drug lords are losing business, losing money and losing power,”” Yarbrough said.

    Students agreed that legalization of drugs in Mexico could prompt students to make a quick trek across the border to get high.

    “”It’s already happening with alcohol, which is still easily obtained in the U.S.,”” Echavarri said. “”Drugs will be the new big thing.””

    Yarbrough agreed that students might take advantage of the chance to get drugs without the risk of being punished, but said those who want drugs will find a way to get them either way.

    “”I think (students) can get those drugs here or there,”” Yarbrough said. “”It’s just a little easier in Mexico.””

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