How Latin America May Lead the World in Decriminalizing Drug Use

Even as Latin American countries are at the forefront of the war against narcotraffickers, they are also pushing alternative strategies — including the legalization of drugs, particularly marijuana

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HECTOR GUERRERO / AFP / Getty Images

A Mexican soldier pulls up marijuana plants found in a field of blue agave in Hostotipaquillo, Jalisco state, on Sept. 27, 2012. Members of the Mexican military conducted an operation in the area, where so far they have destroyed 40 hectares of marijuana plantations and burned more than 50 tons of plants

Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina has never been soft on crime. The 30-year military veteran rose to power last year on the wings of his law-and-order platform, crystallized in his campaign slogan: “Iron fist, head and heart.” And he recently approved the creation of two military bases, outfitted with 2,500 soldiers, to guard against the growing presence of drug cartels that have turned Guatemala into a trafficking corridor and fueled some of the world’s highest murder rates.

Since February, though, Pérez has coupled his tough talk on crime with calls for a drastic change in crime-fighting tactics centered on the legalization and decriminalization of drugs. Legalization, he insists, should supplement military buildup to stem drug-related violence in Latin America. In September, Pérez proposed drug legalization at the U.N. General Assembly. The move angered Washington but was championed by the Presidents of Mexico and Colombia, who appealed to the General Assembly with a similar message. And last week, Pérez repeated calls for a shift in the global war on drugs during a U.N.-sponsored gathering of regional leaders in Antigua, Guatemala. “The current plan,” he told the press, “is not going to give us results.”

(MORE: Uruguay’s Plan to Legalize Marijuana Sales: Should the Rest of the World Follow?)

In the past few months, Latin American Presidents across the political spectrum have joined Pérez in spearheading a hemispheric debate on drug legalization — unprecedented for sitting heads of state. Traditional drug policy focused solely on prohibition — a method dictated by the U.S. since Richard Nixon created the Drug Enforcement Administration 40 years ago — has run its course, they argue. In its place, Latin America has proposed a series of measures focusing on alternative strategies, emerging as the key player in the global reform movement.

“The genie has escaped from the bottle and it isn’t going away,” Hannah Hetzer tells TIME. Hetzer, Latin America coordinator for the U.S.-based Drug Policy Alliance, recently returned from Uruguay, where she addressed members of parliament on the drug-legalization movement in the U.S. “More and more countries in Latin America are following their own diverse set of drug-policy reforms.”

(MORE: Legalizing Marijuana: Why Joe Biden Should Listen to Latin America’s Case)

While no Latin American nation has legalized drugs yet, several have taken steps to decriminalize narcotics. Argentina introduced a measure in Congress this year that would decriminalize the possession of all drugs for personal use. Chile’s Congress, meanwhile, is contemplating a bill that would decriminalize the cultivation of marijuana for personal use. And a Colombian court recently upheld a law that decriminalizes the possession of small amounts of cocaine. Like Mexico, Colombia has also decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

But no country has proposed more drastic reform than Uruguay. President José Mujica’s center-left Broad Front party introduced a measure this summer that would not only legalize marijuana consumption but also place the government at the helm of production and distribution. The bill, which would allow citizens to purchase up to 40 g of cannabis per month, materialized as the tiny nation of 3.5 million inhabitants scrambles to battle drug-related violence.

“Our central concern is how narcotics trafficking is progressively altering certain aspects of Uruguayan culture and society,” Julio Calzada, secretary general of Uruguay’s National Committee on Drugs, tells TIME. “The proposal aspires to regulate the marijuana market with strict state control, which would allow us to  guarantee users marijuana access without being in contact with the criminal world.”

The measure, which would permit the government to regulate the estimated $40 million marijuana market, will be debated in Uruguay’s Congress for the next six months. Although party divisions exist, Calzada believes there is enough political support to approve some form of the bill next spring. Most opposition to the bill, Calzada points out, has come from marijuana users who worry about excessive government control and from physicians who fear increased rates of drug addiction.

The U.S., meanwhile, has resisted any alternatives to its prohibitionist drug policy. But signs of a possible shift are starting to bubble. Earlier this year at the Summit of the Americas in Colombia, the Obama Administration said that legalization was worthy of debate. And during a visit to Mexico in March, Vice President Joe Biden called the debate over drug legalization “legitimate,” but he underlined that the Administration would not alter its stance opposing legislation.

Latin America has also encountered a roadblock in the U.N., despite repeated calls for the global organization to arrange an international conference on drug-policy alternatives that go beyond mere prohibition. Just last week, the governments of Guatemala, Colombia and Mexico issued a joint statement calling for the U.N. to exercise leadership in the war on drugs, “including regulatory and market measures, with the goal of establishing a new paradigm that keeps resources from flowing into the hands of organized crime.” There has been no response from the U.N.

While Latin America insists that policy change must be the focus of a coordinated global effort, the region seems bent on advancing reform, with or without international support. “There is a political and global need to advance the mechanisms of drug regulation that don’t rely exclusively on prohibition,” Calzada says. “We have systematically called for ample discussion on these matters on the international stage, but we have only found obstacles. Ultimately, Latin America has the autonomy to advance measures that we feel are most pertinent for our citizens.”

MORE: Four Decades Later, It’s Time to Scrap the Dead-End Drug War

57 comments
uberfeminist
uberfeminist

@georgecolombo @drgrist @davidfrum Yep. It beats having to wage real wars with smugglers.

georgecolombo
georgecolombo

@uberfeminist @drgrist @davidfrum It does if it works.

RichardSRussell
RichardSRussell

We ran this experiment from 1920 to 1933. It was a disaster. Prohibition is an utter and complete failure as a strategy. It leads to MORE use of the banned substance, and in particular more use by teenagers, who can get street drugs more easily than regulated substances like alcohol and tobacco. So in addition to being stupid, expensive, the main source of financial support for both the Taliban and the criminal underworld, and the leading excuse for swelling our world-record prison population with society's most ambitious and innovative small businessmen, it's also counterproductive. Only an idiot could think the New Prohibition is a good idea. As it  happens, tho, it's idiots who are running the country.

bfyrth
bfyrth

Yes, so true, and given the fact we soon will not be able to fund this incompetent strategy its time to shift. The only mystery is why such incompetence can rise so high, and thats on all sides of the house.

Either legalise or iron fist, the hald way house is so so weak.

holdeninpdx
holdeninpdx

While I support the legalization of marijuana, I'm not naive enough to think that it's legalization (or the legalization of ALL drugs) would eliminate the criminal element which dominates Central and South America.  The sale and distribution of drugs is currently a profitable enterprise.

Were the profit potential of drugs to be eliminated through legalization, other streams would be expanded or created (human trafficking, kidnapping, theft, etc.).  Bad people will always exist and the criminal mind is always thinking of new ways to profit from illegal activity.

From a US perspective, it seems to me the most effective way to curb the effects of what's going on from Mexico and south of there is to fortify our southern border--and the LAWS effecting our ability to secure it.  The notion that what we're doing now is working, is ridiculous. 

Illegals caught crossing are merely returned to try, again.  "Mules" are slapped on the wrist and returned to their home countries.  Why?  Because we "can't afford" to do anything else.  We spend trillions of dollars on our "world military presence" yet pay token attention to our own border security.

We have military installations in Germany...why?  What is the benefit of stationing tens of thousands of soldiers in France, and Belgium, and Italy, etc?  If we closed a FRACTION of our overseas bases and moved those assets to our southern border...and built a monstrous prison to accommodate those foolish enough to attempt breaking NEW and truly PUNITIVE laws regarding illegal entry, we would be safer and sounder, financially speaking.

Illegal aliens put a massive strain on our economy and, while the "bad element" may not be that high, percentage-wise, it is significant and able to exploit our porous border with little resistance.  21st Century criminals call for 21st Century thinking...until that happens, US citizens in our southern border cities and communities will live in fear.  Drug use, particularly pot, is not the main problem facing the United States. 

Until our priorities change to meet the times, we'll be resigned to relying on Uruguay and Columbia  and Belize and Guatemala and Mexico, etc., for OUR safety...

Paulpot
Paulpot

Colorado, Oregon, Washington. These three states are having ballot to make similar reforms to their own drug laws as suggested in Uruguay. Should one of them do it, it's anyone's guess what will happen next. Just as the article points out, plenty of countries have reduced their laws in some way but no-one has actually legalized. So no-one realizes how many are just waiting for the word from above. There's loaded bases everywhere. If a state does it, that as good as saying America has done it and nations drowning in blood and debt will just go ahead and legalize and prohibition will fall just like a Berlin Wall because that's all it is, an artifice. Get out your hammer, hammer that wall. Vote to legalize, end world war, take funding from terrorists, end corruption, heal the sick, comfort the dying, put money back into rural communities, put the economy back on track and all at the ballot box. Medical marijuana in Arkansas and Massachusetts. Never did your vote ever count so much. War is Over! 2012!

JaylikeBird
JaylikeBird

Marijuana is lovely.  Helps me focus amp; get things done, I don't know about you, maybe your brain is different.  However, trust me on this, you prefer me to smoke the occasional bit of weed.

Marijuana helps me to keep my dreaming centered and live in this world.

Gart Valenc
Gart Valenc

I do wholeheartedly welcome Uruguay’s initiative. So far, it is the only country  in Latin America that seems to understand that decriminalising the demand  while keeping illegal the supply is the worst of both worlds for producing amp;  transit countries.  

I have no doubt it is going to be a difficult and challenging journey, but I hope the same rational approach will be applied to all drugs, not just marihuana.  More on this here:  bit.ly/PlsIa1

Gart Valenc

Twitter: @gartvalenc

Gart Valenc
Gart Valenc

I do wholeheartedly welcome Uruguay’s initiative. So far, it is the only country in Latin America that seems to understand that decriminalising the demand while keeping illegal the supply is the worst of both worlds for producing amp; transit countries. 

I have no doubt it is going to be a difficult and challenging journey, but I hope

the same rational approach will be applied to all drugs, not just marihuana. More on this here: bit.ly/PlsIa1

Gart Valenc

Twitter: @gartvalenc

Orville Lloyd Douglas
Orville Lloyd Douglas

I think the South American governments are on the right path the USA drug policy model is not working. Also, the USA needs to back off and stay out of the South American government affairs. Look at the Netherlands, marijuana is legal there as other drugs and they don't have the kinds of social problems the USA has. The Netherlands also has one of the lowest teen pregnancy rates in the world. The USA should try to learn from the Netherlands, Portugal, and other nations this whole get tough on drugs strategy is not working.

Ryan744
Ryan744

South America should just do it already. Stop caring what the US and UN think about it and just do whats right and end this rediculous war on drugs. 2 or three countries legalizing marijuana could shatter the entire prohibitionist paradigm.

jayman419
jayman419

A cynical person would say that the destabilization of nations that results from prohibition is one of the (if not the only) unstated goal of the program.

JaylikeBird
JaylikeBird

The only thing that's been destabilized here are your critical thinking skills, jayman.

jayman419
jayman419

Really? Let's look at the facts. Latin America trails only Africa and the Middle East in regional instability. Generally, when Oklahoma University looked at 18 countries from 1971-2000 they found 20 coups, 451 political assassinations, 217 riots, and 113 crises that threatened to bring down the sitting government.

From 2000 to 2006, the US spent $6 billion trying to reduce areas in Columbia that were controlled by illegal armed groups who were funding their personal armies with drug profits. Large swaths of the country were (and remain) inaccessible to government forces.

Mexico is rapidly sliding down the path to becoming a failed state, with violence and corruption spiraling out of the control of the government there.

Venezuela's leader first came to attention after a failed military coup in 1992, followed by a second attempt by the same group 9 months later. Chavez himself was briefly removed from power in 2002, in a coup which he claimed the United States supported.

So we have the facts. Now let's think.

Bad guys have access to easy money by selling drugs. Not a little bit of money. We're talking access to a multibillion dollar global commodities market pouring cash into a region where the average income per capita is around $7000 US. They use this money to purchase influence. Directly in the form of weapons, and indirectly in the form of bribes and replacing government services (building roads, providing electricity, ect).

Farmers, who don't even earn close to $7000 a year, just can't compete by growing legal crops. And even if a farmer could earn that kind of money legally, the threats from these armed groups make resistance futile if he wants to save his family and livelihood.

Open your eyes, man. Look at what's happening. While our government spends millions to keep the war on (some) drugs going, and forces cooperation from other countries as a requirement for treaties and aid and mutual defense, we are privately spending billions on illegal drugs to consume, and allowing narcoterrorism to slowly take over the world.

JaylikeBird
JaylikeBird

 Gosh, I don't know, the Western Hemisphere just wouldn't be the same without all the grisly drug business violence. 

JaylikeBird
JaylikeBird

Like my dear old dad used to say, "We can do this the easy way, or the hard way..."

The US needs to pull its head out of its butt, and quick.  I'm not sure if people here realize how fragile our situation is.  Legalization would be a positive step further toward necessary cultural evolution. Or perhaps I will emigrate to Chile in November, we'll see.

Moe Lester
Moe Lester

My dad used to tell me that too when I was around 6 years old when I wouldn't drink my special cup of "Jesus Juice" every night before I went to bed. I would always pitch a fit and whine. But, after I drink it, I would be knocked out within minutes! For some reason though, when I would wake up the next morning, my bottom would be sore and there was white sauce leaking out of it. That Jesus Juice sure would do a number on you! I should have tried the easy way!!!

Malcolm Kyle
Malcolm Kyle

When defending their dangerous and counter-productive war on (some) drugs, unconscionable prohibitio­nists often, cite "our obligation to the children", but prohibition­ has made all of these 'at present illegal' substances available in schools, and even prisons. How has that helped our kids?

Prohibition has also raised gang warfare to a level not seen since the days of alcohol bootlegging in the United States. How has that helped our kids?

Prohibition has creating a prison-for-profit synergy with evil drug lords and terrorists. How has that helped our kids?

Prohibition has removed many of our cherished and important civil liberties. How has that helped our kids?

Prohibition has put many previously unknown and contaminated drugs on our streets. How has that helped our kids?

Prohibition has escalating Murder, Theft, Muggings, and Burglaries. How has that helped our kids?

Prohibition has overcrowded the courts and prisons, thus making it increasingly impossible to curtail the people who are really hurting and terrorizing others. How has that helped our kids?

Prohibition has evolved local street gangs into transnational enterprises with intricate power structures that reach into every corner of society, and with significant social and military resources at their disposal. How has that helped our kids?

“The State must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation.” — Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf”

bibleverse1
bibleverse1

Legalizing marijuana wouldnt bother me. It will not change make me smoke.

jhartsho
jhartsho

Portugal already did this.  New disease cases declined, crime plummeted, health care costs went down....This is not new and has already been shown to work.  But we're asking the same country where half the people don't believe in evolution to open their minds to this? Fat chance.

GSystems
GSystems

At that point, we can see that the issue is as the forefathers of the country warned: Religion. At the same time, it is clear that there are many profits being made, and there are enough profits that have already been made to threaten the politicians who probably use these same drugs into silence... 

No one can convince me that George W. Bush was not on cocaine at many of his Rose Garden speeches...

JaylikeBird
JaylikeBird

When Rubio goes to visit Cheney in Taos they snort coke off Geronimo's skull.

Bob Sheep
Bob Sheep

This is a strategic move to hedge their bets in case the US decriminalizes it.

jayman419
jayman419

 The US can't decriminalize it. Opiates, cocaine, and marijuana are covered by the 1961 Single Convention on Drugs (and 2 followups from 1971 and 1988).

That's why this matter isn't gaining any traction in the UN, and why the federal government has been forced to allow the gray area between the DEA and state laws to exist.

Gart Valenc
Gart Valenc

Could you elaborate? 

Gart Valenc

Twitter: @gartvalenc

anonymousposter4all
anonymousposter4all

This is a pointless article; With the new Mexican Government to take power on December of this year the so called war on Drugs will come to an end due to the new government being owned by the dominant Zetas Cartel. The world stood by and allowed for the electoral fraud in Mexico to go through and completely ignore the fact that this is bad for everyone not just Mexican Citizens. Furthermore as long as the American people remain the highest consumers of Narcotics this so called Drug trade will never end.

Heisenberg
Heisenberg

Stay out of my territory. You legalize drugs and we may have a problem.

JaylikeBird
JaylikeBird

That broom closet is all yours, Heisenberg.  Shoot all intruders, check to see if they are your son later.  Go.

Cody Hammond
Cody Hammond

let's decriminalize all drugs, free the people, and educate them to use drugs responsibly!

Fred_Evil
Fred_Evil

 Sshhhh! Stop with the common sense and reason! We have NO reason to allow people to be FREE!

JaylikeBird
JaylikeBird

Maybe the people will educate you a thing or two.

Gart Valenc
Gart Valenc

Sorry for being pedantic but the title is misleading: Almost every country in Europe has decriminalised 'de jure' or 'de facto' the consumption of drugs, specifically marihuana, so Latin America is following the world, not leading it.

Where Latin America could lead the world is in the Regulated Legalisation of the market for drugs—provided initiatives like the one launched by Uruguay becomes a reality. 

Admittedly, there is a discussion to be had regarding the specifics of Uruguay’s initiative and in a broader context, about the impact such a model might have on other countries seeking alternatives to current drugs policies.

At this juncture, though, one thing is crystal clear: any chance of finding and implementing alternative policies will be wasted unless producing and transit countries in Latin America receive a clear and unambiguous support from countries inside and outside the region. 

Since the support of the US is unlikely—if anything the US will by any means available try to torpedo the initiative, any initiative that questions Prohibition and the War on Drugs—the support of Europe is paramount. I do believe Europe has the moral obligation to support Latin America's call for more rational drugs policies.

Gart Valenc

Twitter: @gartvalenc

Grant Harmon
Grant Harmon

The only people opposed to legalization seem to be those that are either making some sort of profit from prohibition (police, DEA, prisons, big pharm, alcohol, etc) or people that are ignorant to the lessons learned from prohibition of alcohol and have been brainwashed into thinking there is no other feasible option.

Mike259
Mike259

Agreed. I think society pays a higher price for trying to restrict acces to narcotics. I personally would like to do away with them altogether, but since three decades of waging  a war on drugs have clearly shown us it can't be done, we need to weigh the which position is most costly to our society.

Some countries where marijuana is legal, have already demonstrated that people won't be any more addicted to drugs that they will be addicted to alcohol.  The upside is that you take revenue from criminals, you increase tax revenue,  take casual users out of prison, reduce violent deaths, etc.

Now, criminals will be criminals. I wonder what they will turn to once you take the money from their drug business away.

Just_Another_Psycho
Just_Another_Psycho

ARITHMETIC is the answer...!!! Basic laws of supply and demand...!!

Where there's demand, there will always be supply to meet it.

The war on drugs has focused on fighting supply (drug production) while drug consumption (demand) remains unchanged or increases, leading to higher prices and the search for substitutes and complements (creation, invention of other drugs)....and creating the perfect economic incentives for drug traffickers at the same time. 

I grew up in the US and Colombia and I've been living in Europe for the past 10 years...since I'm from Colombia the subject of drug on wars comes up a lot...and I've witnessed what happened in Colombia during the Pablo Escobar era...

I don't think that legalizing drugs is a good option. Europeans approach the problem from a different perspective. They've developed programs to fight consumption and addiction. Government sponsored programs even offer cocaine or heroin substitutes for free providing also secure environments (safe houses) where addicts can go and use the provided drugs....

Just to make a very long story short. The US needs to stop outsourcing the problem and start creating educational and health care related programs to fight consumption and lower demand.

 

Gart Valenc
Gart Valenc

I totally agree with you in that the demand creates the supply, not the other way round. I'm confused, though, as to why you say legalisation is not a good option.  

I'm wondering if you are confusing decriminalisation with Regulated Legalisation, that is, a drugs regime in which the production, distribution and consumption of a drug are legal but under strict regulation.  (See my website posts and the comments I've made here) 

Gart Valenc

Twitter: @gartvalenc

Just_Another_Psycho
Just_Another_Psycho

I just spent sometime on your website. Nice work, strong and very smart arguments...Congratulations!

You see, I'm leaving in Germany and over here drug consumption is not illegal. Drug possession and distribution are are penalized. 

They also have a certain level of tolerance and if you get caught with a small amount for personal use, chances are that you go unpunished...They know that they can't stop drug addicts from buying and dealers from selling...They also know that drug addicts might get involved in criminal activities in order to get money for buying drugs....so they built those houses where drug addicts can go and get cheap substitutes (such as Methadone, etc.), hypodermic needles and such...and do their stuff under the supervision of social workers and caretakers... They also have hundreds of programs to rehabilitate addicts, reintegrates them into the job market, etc....

You see th,at way they reduce criminality, get dealers out of the equation, help drug addicts to recover, get them jobs and a normal live, etc. a lot is good is been done.

 All I'm saying is that US law makers might need to consider passing laws and implementing such policies and programs to tackle consumption..

And still I think there is a big difference between helping drug addicts to recover and facilitating drug consumption.

Grant Harmon
Grant Harmon

Then why not make alcohol illegal?  It's arguably worse than marijuana.  People should have the freedom to do what they want, granted it does not harm others.  And personally, I think users of marijuana are much less likely to harm others than users of alcohol.   I think educating people about the actual harms of drugs is important but when you just say "drugs are bad" it sends the wrong message.  By the way, the top two "gateway drugs" are alcohol and tobacco.

Fred_Evil
Fred_Evil

 It's not arguably worse than marijuana, alcohol IS worse than marijuana, as is tobacco!

Alcohol KILLS 75,000 Americans per year.

Tobacco KILLS 450,000 Americans per year.

Marijuana kills ZERO Americans per year.

That said, NONE of them should be illegal, this is a free country, and what you do is your business, until you impact someone else by drunk driving, or with secondhand smoke.

Just_Another_Psycho
Just_Another_Psycho

This conversation is going in the wrong direction. It reminds me of the time when big tobacco companies used to compare smoking with e.g.  butter or sugar...it's all about quantity and personal choice they said, if you eat too much butter it would also kill you.....now almost hundred years later politicians acknowledged that smoking not only kills you but also the people standing next to you (passive smokers)...

I don't think you can compare drinking a glass of red wine with shooting heroin. Besides the war against drugs is not against marijuana it's against cocaine and heroin and all the criminals in the business...

The Classical Liberal
The Classical Liberal

I wish that was so. There are a lot of people from Sean Hannity types on the right to the NYTs editorial board on the left who feel the need to protect people from themselves.

SPENCA
SPENCA

MORE PEOPLE DIE EACH YEAR IN OUR WORLD BECAUSE OF RELIGION THAN PEOPLE DO USING DRUGS.  SO IF PEOPLE ARE ALLOWED  TO BE RELIGIOUS THEN PEOPLE SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO USE DRUGS WHEN THEY PLEASE. NO MAN OR GOVERNMENT HAVE THE RIGHT TO DICTATE TO ANOTHER MAN/WOMEN IF  THAT MAN/WOMEN IS NOT CAUSING HARM TO OTHER PEOPLE, BUT ONLY TO THEMSELVES. US DRUG USERS ARE FED UP BEING DICTATED TO BY UNEDUCATED PEOPLE WHO HAVE THERE OWN BIAS OPINIONS ABOUT THINGS THEY KNOW NOTHING ABOUT. IF YOU HAVE NEVER USED DRUGS THEN YOU DON'T HAVE EXPERIENCE OR THE KNOWLEDGE  TO MAKE AN UNBIASED JUDGEMENT, ITS OUR HUMAN RIGHT TO DO AS WE PLEASE AS HUMANS AS LONG AS IT DOSE NOT EFFECT OR BRING HARM TO OTHER PEOPLE. SO WHEN I GROW MY MARIJUANA IN MY HOUSE amp; SMOKE IT IN MY HOUSE WHO IS BEING HARMED OR EFFECTED ?? NO ONE SO THE LAW IS AGAINST MY HUMAN RIGHT, amp; AS TIME HAS SHOWED THE CURRENT LAWS DO NOT WORK amp; BILLIONS OF TAX PAYERS MONEY IS BEING WASTED EACH YEAR ON THE POINTLESS WAR ON DRUGS.   

Katie K. Mercer
Katie K. Mercer

@chrish513:disqus You legalize drugs and we may have a problem. ẃhãt Adãṁ ańşẃered í'ṁ íṁpressed thãt ãńy body able to ǧet pãíd $9183 iń 4 ẃěêkş oń the ińterńet. did you reãd thiş ẃeb lińk..NDOQESB.Tk

Gart Valenc
Gart Valenc

Has anybody heard a single European head of state supporting, let alone calling for a debate on the War on Drugs with the clarity and vehemence with which Latin American presidents have?

As a European it saddens me to say that our cynicism is beyond the pale: we are the second largest consumer in the world, after the US. Almost every country in Europe has "quasi legalised" the consumption, and in some cases the domestic supply of drugs. Yet, we have shown no support for Latin America's call to implement alternatives to the current War on Drugs policies.

I have no doubts that the effective (not rhetorical but real) support of European governments is a sufficient (and necessary?) condition for the success of Latin America's call for more rational drugs policies.

Gart Valenc

Twitter: @gartvalenc

Just_Another_Psycho
Just_Another_Psycho

Meanwhile, big American and European pharmaceutical companies are responsible for producing and selling the chemicals necessary to process coca such as sodium carbonate, kerosene, etc.

I don't recall anybody asking for more control and regulation of those chemicals and the companies behind them...

Bill Chung
Bill Chung

 did n"t Portugal legalize all drugs 10 yrs ago?

Gart Valenc
Gart Valenc

No, Portugal decriminalised, not legalised, the consumption of all drugs in 2001. The supply, however, continues being criminalised. See the contradiction?

Gart Valenc

Twitter: @gartvalenc

Joe Oh
Joe Oh

Decriminalizing won't do much when there isn't a legal and regulated supply.