Op-ed: Drugs, The Debate Goes Mainstream

April 12, 2012

Fernando Henrique Cardoso, César Gaviria and Ernesto Zedillo, Global Commission on Drug Policy, 4/12/12

What is the best way to deal with drugs? Criminalizing drug users or treating them as patients? Sticking to a strict prohibitionist stance or experimenting with alternative forms of regulation and prevention?

Latin America is talking about drugs like never before. The taboo that has long prevented open debate about drug policies has been broken – thanks to a steadily deteriorating situation on the ground and the courageous stand taken by presidents Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, Otto Perez Molina of Guatemala and Laura Chinchilla of Costa Rica.

The facts speak for themselves. The foundations of the US-led war on drugs – eradication of production, interdiction of traffic, and criminalization of consumption – have not succeeded and never will. When there is established demand for a consumer product, there will be a supply. The only beneficiaries of prohibition are the drug cartels.

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