Latin American Leaders: Why We Should Treat Addicts, Not Criminalize and Stigmatize Them
Continued from previous page
Regulation cuts the link between traffickers and consumers. It is this link that enables traffickers to impel people to use ever more harmful drugs. Since marijuana is by far the most widely consumed illicit drug in the world, regulation would also significantly reduce the vast resources -- and thus the vast power and influence -- generated by organized crime in the illegal drug markets..
We congratulate the presidents of Colombia, Guatemala and Costa Rica for having the courage to put different options on the table that would undermine the power of organized crime and safeguard the health and security of their citizens.
For the first time, drug policy will be on the agenda at the Summit of the Americas, which will take place in Cartagena de las lndias, Colombia, on April 14-15. It is unlikely that the heads of state will reach a consensus about such a complex and controversial issue. At this point, what is most needed is a serious and rigorous debate, enabling each country to develop its own position and to adopt more appropriate solutions that take their history and culture into account.
Latin America's experiences in fighting drug traffic, the successful examples set by some European countries in reducing the individual and societal harms of drug misuse, the experimentation of several U.S. states with the medical uses of marijuana, the engagement of the business sector and the scientific community, and the profound wish of the young to live in peace, all point toward more balanced, humane and efficient drug policies.
A paradigm shift, combining repression of the violent drug trade with increased investments in treatment and prevention, would be the best contribution that Latin America -- a region that has suffered so much under drug prohibition -- could make to global reform of drug policies.
Fernando Henrique Cardoso is the former president of Brazil and chair of the Global Commission on Drug Policy.
Ernesto Zedillo is the former president of Mexico and member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy.
Cesar Gaviria is the former president of Colombia and member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy.