Latin leaders legitimize legalization

Posted on November 28th, 2012 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , .

leafThe leaders of Mexico, Belize, Honduras and Costa Rica issued a joint statement Nov. 12 calling for a review of anti-drug strategies, after the US states of Colorado and Washington voted to legalize cannabis.  Mexican President Felipe Calderón, after a meeting with Honduran President Porfirio Lobo, Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla and Belize Prime Minister Dean Barrow, said that it has become necessary to analyze the implications for public policy and health in our nations, and that cannabis legalization by US states is "a paradigm change on the part of those entities in respect to the current international system." The leaders called for the Organization of American States to study the impact of the Colorado and Washington votes, and said the UN General Assembly should hold a special session on the prohibition of drugs by 2015 at the latest. (Al Jazeera, Nov. 13)

The Global Commission on Drug Policy (GCDP), a new international lobby group for liberalization, met last month in Warsaw, calling for what it termed the failed war on drugs to be replaced by policies oriented to regulation and prevention. "Vast expenditures on criminalization and repressive measures directed at producers, traffickers and consumers of illegal drugs have clearly failed to effectively curtail supply or consumption," the Commission's statement from the Warsaw meeting said. According to the GCDP, the worldwide supply of illicit opiates like heroin has ballooned by more than 380% in recent decades "from 1,000 metric tons in 1980 to more than 4,800 metric tons in 2010," despite massive hikes in funds aimed at fighting drug trafficking.

Among those in attendance was former Colombian president César Gaviria, who called for shifting the focus "from jails and the police to prevention," and said that localities in his country are leading the way. "The way we are working in Colombia—for example in Medellén and in Bogotá—it's through prevention campaigns…with families, with teachers," he told reporters, highlighting progress made in cities long dominated by violent cartels. Gaviria also insisted on the need to lobby the US Congress "to say we need you to debate and to change your laws, otherwise the violence in Latin America, Mexico and Central America will be out of hand and we will lose." 

Commission members also include Brazil's former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Mexico's ex-prez Ernesto Zedillo as well as notables like Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa and Virgin Group billionaire Richard Branson. Cardoso called on governments to "experiment with different models of legal regulation of drugs, such as marijuana, similar to what we already have with tobacco and alcohol." He said such a policy would allow governments to impose "all kinds of restrictions and limitations on the production, trade, advertising and consumption of a given substance in order to deglamourize, discourage and control its use." He added: "Drug abusers may harm themselves and their families, but locking them up is not going to help them."

Gaviria expressed optimism that these changes could come sooner than many expect. "There is no support for prohibition anymore, not even in the US," he said. "No US official talks about defending prohibition as a policy. I haven't heard of anyone. They've just stopped talking about it." (AFP, Oct. 25)

Image: Jurist


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