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1940: the year Mexico legalised drugs, Dr Benjamin Smith investigates

Dr Benjamin SmithDr Benjamin Smith is reader of Latin American history in the History department, specialising in modern Mexican history. Here he investigates how on 5 January 1940, Mexico’s left-wing president, Lázaro Cárdenas, signed the new Federal Regulation of Drug Addiction into law.

The new legislation was truly revolutionary: it swept away the old punitive edicts on drugs offences, authorised doctors to prescribe narcotics to addicts, established out-patient clinics to help these addicts, and made broader pleas to treat addicts as ill rather than as criminals. Yet, despite being deemed a major success, within six months the legislation was overturned.

Read more on the BBC History website.


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