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Mexico decriminalizes small drug amounts

MEXICO CITY, Aug. 22 (UPI) -- Mexican President Felipe Calderon's war against drug cartels may be hurt by the decriminalization of small amounts of illegal drugs, critics say.

A new law, which took effect Friday, allows for the possession of the equivalent of about five joints of marijuana or four lines of cocaine, as well as small amounts of heroin and other drugs. It is a bid to free prosecutors up to concentrate on Calderon's war against large-scale drug traffickers, The Wall Street Journal reported.

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But some aren't so sure it's the best way to fight the drug traffickers.

"I'm sympathetic with the Mexicans that they need to find a more effective way to deal with the cartels," said former U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement chief Julie Myers Wood, who, along with President George W. Bush, strongly opposed an earlier move by Mexico toward decriminalization. "But just giving up, in terms of small amounts of drugs like and cocaine and heroin, does not seem to me to be the most sensible approach."

However, an official with Mexico's Attorney General's office told the Journal the decriminalization measure "frees us from a flood of small crimes that have saturated our federal government and allows the authorities to go after big criminals."

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