Friday, April 13, 2012

Latin American pleas for US drug legalization


Hal Pepinsky,,

April 13, 2012

Check al Jazeera’s report on pleas for US drug legalization at the Summit of the Americas--which President Obama will attend tomorrow after discussion of the legalization is over--at . The report points to the irony that among political leaders in Latin America, it is those self-identified as leftist in Nicaragua and Cuba, and U.S. ex-colony Panama, who continue to support the U.S. led war on drugs, launched by President Nixon in 1971. Asking for drug legalization are presidents self-identified as conservative: a former defense minister in Columbia, a former general in Guatemala who was elected president on a platform of fighting a broad war on crime, and in Mexico, a president who at U.S. behest launched an ill-fated war on drug traffickers. “Conservative” presidents of Costa Rica and El Salvador have joined them.

In a visit to Central America last week, the US vice president said that the topic of legalization was worth discussion, even though this administration was opposed. Perhaps if re-elected, President Obama will moderate this stance. Progress toward legalization will probably continue with the illicit drug most known to be a drug of choice among white people, marijuana, while drug enforcement will continue to account for most of the increase in imprisonment of people of color, particularly so for women.

When the U.S. modern war on drugs began, proponents of legalization in this country were leading self-identified conservatives too, notably William Buckley, Barry Goldwater and Milton Friedman.

At a time of high unemployment, it may seem cruel to want to put those in the drug enforcement industry out of work, but in this case, call me a fiscal conservative. Love and peace--hal


  1. On NPR this morning, it was reported that the president of Guatemala has called for "decriminalization" of drug offenses, while al Jazeera translated as "legalisation." While I haven't seen the remarks in Spanish, I'm not sure which he meant. But since al Jazeera also said that his campaign had been built on fighting a war against "delinquency," the Spanish way of saying "crime," I suspect that "legalization" is closer to what the president advocated.
    With decriminalization goes civil treatment regimens that may grant users less legal recourse than in criminal proceedings, and if drug distribution remains illegal, Guatemala, Mexico and Columbia are still saddled with drug cartels. How timidly we in the US are when it comes to letting go of drug control. l&p--hal

  2. "The War In Drugs is a war waged against pooe people on street drugs, by rich people on prescription drugs" - Roseanne Barr

  3. *edit errors caused by idiot auto-correct function*

    "The War On Drugs is a war waged against poor people on street drugs, by rich people on prescription drugs" - Roseanne Barr