Local police officials are concerned that Mexico's new laws will fuel drug tourism.
The San Diego police department fears that Mexico's new laws will encourage drug use, especially among American college students. Tens of thousands of students flock to Cancun and Acapulco each year to party at beachside discos offering wet T-shirt contests and all-you-can-drink deals.
San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne said he fears Mexico will become a destination for drug-fueled spring breaks and tourism.
"Now they will go because they can get drugs," Lansdowne said. "For a country that has experienced thousands of deaths from warring drug cartels for many years, it defies logic why they would pass a law that will clearly encourage drug use."
Mexico now has one of the world's most liberal laws for drug users after eliminating jail time for small amounts of narcotics. The new laws eliminate jail time for anyone carrying small amounts of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, LSD and methamphetamine. Enacted last week, the laws are part of a growing trend across Latin America to treat drug use as a public health problem.
The new laws require officials to encourage drug users to seek treatment in lieu of jail, but the government has not allocated more money for organizations that are supposed to help them. Treatment is mandatory for third-time offenders, but the laws do not specify penalties for noncompliance.
The measures are also expected to make room in overcrowded prisons for violent traffickers instead of small-time users.