Tag Archives: drug policy

Drug reform around the world: part three

The US has long been the world-leader in the redundant fight against drugs, ever since Richard Nixon famously declared it a “war” in 1976. Despite the last three US Presidents admitting to have smoked pot at some point in their lives, they refuse to budge on their hard-line stance against cannabis (a tad hypocritical, don’t you think?). Yet in spite of this, the US on a more local level is evolving. Only last year 50% of Americans stated that cannabis should be legalised[1], while fourteen states have decriminalised the drug and seventeen have legalised the drug for medicinal use. Three of these  states, Washington, Oregon and Colorado, will soon go to the ballot box to decide whether to completely legalise cannabis.

This is promising progress, but less promising is the obstinate attitude taken by the Obama Adminstration and the Drug Enforcement Agency towards drug trafficking in Latin America. Yet these bordering countries are now starting to diverge from America’s way of thinking: prior to the Summit of the Americas in April this year, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos declared the drug war as failing,

“It’s been the same approach and the same policies, and where are we? This is what we have to ask ourselves. Are we in the ideal place? Or should we at least contemplate alternatives?”

Juan Manuel Santos. Image courtesy Wikipedia

Guatemalen President Otto Perez has also come out against hard drug policies, stating that as long as there is a demand for drugs in the US, drug trafficking will continue in his country.

Drug trafficking and its associated effects are no more evident than in Mexico, where in the past six years the country has experienced one of the worst periods in the nation’s history: since Felipe Calderon’s election as President in 2006, he has brought with him a military-led, hard-line opposition to drug cartels, who earn over half their profits from marijuana. This policy has failed dramatically, leading to unprecedented bloodshed and violence between Mexican drug cartels. Over 45,000 people up until 2011 alone have been killed, with kidnappings and beheadings a common occurrence in Northern Mexico today.

File:Drug-War Related Murders in Mexico 2006-2011.png

Calderon’s predecessor, Vincente Fox, president of Mexico from 2001 to 2006, stated last year that not only have Calderon’s policies failed, but that the Army, so prevalent on the Mexican streets now, has violated human rights and judicial due process in their prosecution of drug traffickers. He believes the US should legalise drugs so as to end the demand for illegal drugs and subsequently end the slaughter of so many of his countrymen.

So who do you think is right? Are the US Federal Govt and Felipe Calderon doing the just thing by targeting these drug cartels? Or is Vincente Fox and the handful of US states correct in accepting that drug use is a permanent fixture of society?


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