Latin American Nations Debate Legalizing Pot

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/vincentguerault/8708838391/sizes/z/in/photolist-egz5f4-egEMZs-egEQuf-egESz1-egETUQ-egz7ct-egz3xi-egEQQw-egz4NT-egz32H-egz5xH-egETzm-egENCj-egz8mv-egERwy-egEMpN-egEToQ-egEU5u-egEUm9-egz73x-egENtj-egz5TH-egz57T-egz3mR-egEPn3-egz6SK-egz9Bp-egENLS-egz5op-egEPF1-egERnL-egERbL-egz7yz-egEPbU-egESe7-7CAMq8-7NC1id-7Yn6vX-7Yn85c-7NC287-7NxUPT-7NBWSf-7NBV5E-7NxUDx-7NBUM7-7NBVHd-7NBTA7-7NxXFZ-7NxXvp-7NxZwX-7NBYQ1/">CCDyson</a>/Flickr

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


At last week’s annual summit of the Organization of American States, Latin American leaders distanced themselves from the United States’ drug policies and agreed to consider the widespread legalization of marijuana.

The OAS summit “was really a tipping point for this movement” to end the war on drugs, said Pedro Abramovay, a campaign director for Avaaz, a global nonprofit group that has petitioned the OAS to liberalize its drug policies.

The move comes as Uruguay debates a bill to legalize the production and sale of pot (it is already legal there for personal use) and as Chile considers decriminalizing it. Latin American leaders also have kept a close eye on how Colorado and Washington, having legalized marijuana, will go about regulating its consumption.

At the summit, which wrapped up on Friday in Antigua, Guatemala, delegates reviewed a recent OAS study that explores a range of options for a new regional drug policy that might include legalizing or decriminalizing cannabis, and even abandoning the fight against the coca production in some areas. “Never before has a multilateral organization engaged in such an inclusive and intellectually legitimate analysis of drug policy options,” Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said in a statement. The delegates agreed to create a high-level commission to debate the study and make policy suggestions.

“What we have in mind is that countries should be free to pursue their own way.”

The Latin American movement away from US drug policy has been gaining steam gradually over the past few years. In 2009, former presidents Fernando Henrique Cardoso (Brazil), Cesar Gaviria (Colombia), and Ernesto Zadillo (Mexico) said that the time had come to “break the taboo” on exploring alternatives to the failed war on drugs. Other high-profile former leaders such as Jimmy Carter and Mexico’s Vicente Fox have echoed their call.

Yet it is the legalization of pot by two of America’s states that may end up being the biggest game changers, giving Latin American leaders political cover to part ways with Uncle Sam. “What we have in mind,” Abramovay told me, “is that countries should be free to pursue their own way.”

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate