For the first time since
Granted, this is a debate that is just starting at government levels, and that will take years to produce concrete results.
But there are several new factors, including a reduction of U.S. anti-narcotic aid to
- First, for the first time, Latin American presidents currently in office are openly calling for government-to-government talks to discuss legalization or decriminalization of illicit drugs.
Last week, Guatemalan President
"I want to bring this discussion to the table,"
Until now, several former presidents --
- Second, simultaneously,
According to the budget proposal, U.S. narcotics control and law enforcement funds to
Supporters of the U.S. aid cuts say the decline reflects in part Latin American countries' growing capabilities to fight the drug cartels by themselves. Critics dispute that, saying that it's hard to argue that
- Third, while there is no movement on this issue in the
There are already 13 states that have approved use of marihuana for medical purposes, and three others will propose it in state ballots in the November election.
In addition, some experts predict that
Before concluding this column, I asked
"This is becoming a kind of avalanche," said Bagley, who supports decriminalization of marijuana. "There is a growing questioning of the hard-line drug policies both in
Bagley added, "Prevention, education, treatment and rehabilitation programs are more effective than drug-supply repression."
My opinion: I agree. Granted, decriminalization of marijuana would bring about an increase of consumption at the beginning. Most studies show that when
But most studies also show that -- much like happened with cigarette smoking -- effective campaigns can dramatically reduce drug consumption, without the sequel of domestic crime epidemics and "wars," such as the ones that are leaving tens of thousands of deaths a year in
Until now, this was a debate that was limited to former presidents, academics and journalists. Now, it's beginning to make its way into government houses.
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