The White House has welcomed a decision by Mexico's president not to sign a bill that would have decriminalized possession of small amounts of narcotics.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Thursday the United States welcomes the steps being taken by President Vicente Fox.

Wednesday, Mr. Fox's office announced he would not sign the bill and the legislation would be sent back to Congress for changes.

The statement said the possession of drugs and their consumption are, and will continue to be, crimes in Mexico.

The bill would have allowed the possession of small amounts of cocaine, marijuana, heroin, the hallucinogenic drug L.S.D., amphetamines and M.D.M.A, or ecstasy. Mr. Fox's office had previously said he would sign the measure.

Some officials in the United States said the measure would likely lead to increased border drug activity and drug use by U.S. students and others who visit Mexico.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.