Security Executive Council: Change In Mexican Drug Law Will Impact U.S. Businesses, Critical Infrastructure Sectors

The Associated Press reports that on August 21, Mexico decriminalized the possession and use of small amounts of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and LSD. This change would have a major effect on safety/environmental, legal, human resources and employment operations of businesses that have facilities in Mexico or employees that travel there.

The previous law punished drug possession of any amount with stiff jail sentences. The new law decriminalizes usage by emphasizing treatment for small-scale users, freeing up law enforcement to focus on violent drug traffickers, some officials say. The new law sets "personal use" limits of 5 grams for marijuana, one-half gram for cocaine, 50 milligrams of heroin, 40 milligrams for methamphetamine and 0.015 milligrams for LSD.

The Security Executive Council encourages security executives to meet with their business leaders immediately to prepare their responses to this new law when it is enacted.

“Pre-employment screening programs, drug testing programs, and safety programs of U.S. companies operating in Mexico have always operated on a zero tolerance policy for use or possession when it came to illegal drugs,” said Bob Hayes, managing director of the Security Executive Council. “How will companies respond to both enforcement and testing when the use and minimal possession are no longer illegal? Where blood alcohol content levels can be quickly tested and can define levels of impairment associated with the result, similar tests for impairment are not available for the decriminalized substances.”

Critical infrastructure sectors and U.S. business regulations are often highly dependent on a drug free workplace for improved safety and environmental protection. The transportation sector (e.g., pilots, ship captains and truck drivers), food sector and the energy sector including nuclear and offshore drilling, are highly regulated and will be significantly impacted when this law goes into effect. To complicate matters more it appears other countries are considering following Mexico’s lead such as Argentina and Portugal.

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