| 2009-09-13, by John Ringland|
Did you know that last month:
Mexico decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana,
cocaine, heroin, LSD, methamphetamine and other drugs.
Whilst Argentina's Supreme Court unanimously ruled that it is
unconstitutional to punish an adult for private use of marijuana as
long as it doesn't harm anyone else. Supreme Court Justice Carlos
Fayt told the state-run Telam news agency that "reality"
changed his mind.
Also earlier this year, a Brazilian appeals court ruled that
possession of drugs for personal use is not illegal.
According to Peter Hakim, president of the Inter-American Dialogue
policy institute in Washington, a trend is at work, "It's all
part of a harm-reduction approach," Hakim said, noting that
policymakers are shifting away from getting rid of drugs and toward
figuring out how to reduce harm to users and society.
Recent research has shown that handling drug use as a health
challenge and focusing on treatment may be more efficient.
"It seems quite clear that drug policy based primarily on
interdiction and enforcement has failed," said Robert Pastor, a
Latin America national security adviser for President Jimmy Carter in
the late 1970s.
Former Mexican President Vicente Fox told CNN "I believe it's
time to open the debate over legalizing drugs". Fox's predecesor
and two other former leaders of Latin American nations also called
for the decriminalization of marijuana for personal use and a change
in strategy in the war on drugs.
"The problem is that current policies are based on prejudices
and fears and not on results," former Colombian President Cesar
Gaviria said at a news conference in which the commission's
recommendations were presented. "In Washington there's some
consensus that the current policy is failing," Gaviria said.
Pastor said "The question is whether the United States will
be open to this new path." Hakim said one recent poll showed
that 29 percent of Americans think the best way to deal with
marijuana is to legalize it, and noted that "Mexico tried it
under Fox and the U.S. got so snippety that they had to back down".
However President Obama's inauguration in January may have changed