After decades of bloodshed and billions of dollars spent, there’s an emerging consensus in much of Latin America that the U.S.-authored war on drugs has caused more problems than it has solved, and ought to be ended. Some governments in the region now champion a move away from the longstanding focus on prohibition towards more practical and progressive measures. The greatest change has come in the small republic of Uruguay, whose center-left government pushed through legislation making the state the sole legal dispensary of marijuana in the country. Elsewhere, a host of Latin American leaders such as Guatemala’s Otto Perez Molina have called for drug legalization—Molina did so in the U.N. General Assembly, with the support of regional players such as Mexico and Colombia. While many statesmen, such as Mexico’s new President Enrique Peña Nieto, haven’t endorsed legalization bids, they are urging new approaches in tackling a hideous drug war that has claimed tens of thousands of lives in the past decade. Still, the U.S. — the Western Hemisphere’s biggest market for drugs — remains doggedly opposed to reformist moves further south, despite a number of U.S. states moving to ease the crackdown on marijuana. But, as a new consensus on drugs forms in Latin America, Washington will feel growing pressure to change its own stance.
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