American drug laws are based on the classification of narcotics into five different groups, called Schedules. Each Schedule is numbered I through V with the lower numbers being considered more dangerous in terms of addiction and bodily harm and the higher numbers having varying degrees of use within the American medical system. Canada’s classification system runs on a similar theme with a few different drugs being classified in different ways to the American one. For both countries, drug laws dictate different penalties depending on which drug is called into question and what its intended purpose was: personal use, trafficking, or initial production. Prison sentences are decided based on what Schedule of drug is in question and the more dangerous drugs call for harsher sentencing. In Canada, cannabis is set apart from other Schedule I drugs as it is seen as less harmful; oddly this has not meant its removal to a lesser Schedule as of yet.
Mexican drug law is facing some drastic changes, which are being viewed as hazardous particularly by the American government. President Vicente Fox is due to sign a bill that would effectively wipe out criminal drug charges for the possession of small amounts of any drug, even those though to be particularly dangerous. The logic behind such a law is that regardless of legislation, people always have continued to partake of what are classified as dangerous drugs, and if they are going to do so on their own time there is no real risk to anyone else. Using drugs like marijuana, cocaine and even heroin and speed will therefore become, if not acceptable practice, then at least not an illegal practice since the only person’s health at risk is the person using the drug. Since small amounts of any drug are clearly for personal use and would not generally be sold then, like the Dutch form of drug tolerance, Mexico would likely see its drug users spending less time in court.
Canada is also considering decriminalization of marijuana and the subject keeps rearing its head in provincial and federal governments. The idea is not to encourage people to use drugs but to accept the fact that some people will regardless of legislation and to stop wasting tax dollars trying to stop them. America is certainly not on board with this kind of thinking and with increasing pressure on both borders to loosen up strict drug laws the country is becoming uneasy. Law enforcement agents expect that with such laws in place in Mexico and possibly Canada, drug trafficking between the three countries will become worse than it currently is and more Americans will be obtaining illegal drugs for their own use.
If Mexico is to go ahead with this decriminalization, it would mean that the two countries to the north will be put in a position where they will have to decide their stance on personal drug use and possibly amend their own current drug laws.