MEXICO CITY - The issue of drug decriminalization split Mexican politics in strange ways Saturday, after President Vicente Fox refused to sign a bill that would have eliminated criminal penalties for small amounts of drugs.
About 500 protesters held a marijuana smoke-in in Mexico City, and a presidential candidate who visited the demonstration came out in favor of decriminalization. Mexico City's police chief came out against it, and some members of Congress accused Fox of yielding to U.S. pressure to veto the bill.
"Decriminalization does not create more users . . . we have to decriminalize the discussion of decriminalization," candidate Patricia Mercado of the small Alternative Social-Democratic Party said during a visit to the smoke-in and protest at a park in downtown Mexico City.
Mercado declined an invitation to "Light up! Light up!" but said she supported decriminalizing marijuana.
A half-dozen Mexico City police officers confronted the protesters, but the crowd thronged around them shouting, "Take us all, take us all!" and the police retreated.