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Former South American Presidents Urge Obama To Decriminalize Marijuana

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director February 12, 2009

    The pressure continues to mount, from round the world, for America to rescind its Reefer Madness policies with three former presidents from Brazil, Mexico and Colombia now urging President Barack Obama to formally decriminalize cannabis!

    -AStP

    Cardoso, Gaviria, Zedillo Urge Obama to Decriminalize Marijuana

    By Joshua Goodman (jgoodman19@bloomberg.net)

    Feb. 11 (Bloomberg) — Former presidents of Brazil, Mexico and Colombia said the U.S.-led war on drugs has failed and urged President Barack Obama to consider new policies, including decriminalizing marijuana, and to treat drug use as a public health problem.

    The recommendations by former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, along with Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico and Cesar Gaviria of Colombia, were made in a report today by the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy.

    Among the group’s proposals ahead of a special United Nations ministerial meeting in Vienna to evaluate global drug policy is a call to decriminalize the possession of cannabis for personal use.

    “We need to break the taboo that’s blocking an honest debate,” Cardoso said at a press conference in Rio de Janeiro to present the report. “Numerous scientific studies show that the damage caused by marijuana is similar to that of alcohol or tobacco.”

    Gaviria, who as president of Colombia from 1990-1994 worked with U.S. anti-narcotics agents to hunt down and kill cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar, said he hoped Obama invests in harm reduction and prevention efforts that would relieve Latin America of the burden of fighting drug traffickers.

    Recognize the Failure

    “It makes no sense to continue a policy on moral grounds without getting the desired results,” said Gaviria, citing an October report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office showing drug reduction goals in Colombia have not been met. “Obama, being a pragmatist, should recognize these failures.”

    The group was created last year to focus the global drug debate on harm reduction and prevention efforts and away from policies based on the eradication of production and the criminalization of consumption.

    Latin America is the world’s largest exporter of cocaine and cannabis and a major supplier of opium and heroin. It’s also been the main focus of U.S.-led drug eradication and interdiction efforts ever since U.S. President Richard Nixon declared “war on drugs” in 1971.

    The GAO report, made at the request of then Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, now vice president, Joseph Biden found that production of coca, the base ingredient of cocaine, increased by 15 percent in Colombia since 2000. The U.S. has provided Colombia with $4.9 billion in anti-narcotics aid since 1999 with the goal of reducing coca production by half.

    Gaviria said Mexican President Felipe Calderon should demand Obama do more to reduce drug consumption. The U.S. pledged $400 million and increased cooperation with Mexico last year as part of an anti-drug plan known as the Merida Initiative.

    More than 5,300 people were killed in drug-related violence in Mexico last year, and Mexican lawmakers have said the U.S. holds some responsibility for the bloodshed because demand for narcotics has made the cartels powerful.

    Last Updated: February 11, 2009 16:15 EST

    24 Responses to “Former South American Presidents Urge Obama To Decriminalize Marijuana”

    1. SpongePaul says:

      Prohibition has failed horribly, just like everyone knew it would. now the rest of the world is hoping and waiting for the U.S. to make a move, as it was the U.S. that forced prohibiiton on the world!

    2. lori says:

      maybe…just maybe people are starting to figure this mess out…prohibition didn’t work before and it’s not working now….stop the insanity and legalize hemp before more and more peoples lives are ruined

    3. […] “We need to break the taboo that’s blocking an honest debate,” Cardoso said at a press conference in Rio de Janeiro to present the report. “Numerous scientific studies show that the damage caused by marijuana is similar to that of alcohol or tobacco.” (more…) […]

    4. Tom says:

      Find out why more and more cops, judges, and prosecutors who have fought on the front lines of the “war on drugs” are standing up and saying we need to legalize and regulate all drugs to solve our economic, crime, and public health problems. Decriminalization will not solve the problem: http://www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com

    5. Elijah says:

      If everyone would please call and flood President Barack Obama’s own message line at 202-456-1111 or 202-456-1414 and tell him we want him to REPEAL our Federal marijuana/hemp laws now, every day until our Federal Gov. Repeals all marijuana/hemp laws, then “We the people’s voices will be finally heard loud and clear! Copy this and pass it along! MAKE A DIFFERENCE! CALL

    6. […] “We need to break the taboo that’s blocking an honest debate,” Cardoso said at a press conference in Rio de Janeiro to present the report. “Numerous scientific studies show that the damage caused by marijuana is similar to that of alcohol or tobacco.” (more…) […]

    7. mr.420 says:

      I agree weed is not any more harmless than our legal drugs.I think obama should give some consideration to what our fellow leaders want to embrace in their own society.I mean it would help Americans out if we decriminalized it even more,I live in minnesota and think that if we could help make the push to legaliztaion that one law could create millions of jobs and also millions of tax dollars for our gov. and to help with the recession. I only wish our gov. was as fair as they claim,without our gov being fair I say we are not free.
      !

    8. Demand seems to go up when something is illegal, it’s really the biggest appeal to certain drugs. It seems like Cuban Cigars are as popular as they are in the U.S. for one reason, is they’re illegal.

      If we made certain drugs legal, then the demand would just die down by more than half.

    9. The drug war with Mexico is a good one as long as its needed that is to say when the us taxes and decriminalizes weed the WAR WILL BE OVER Thank john Lennon

    10. Jeff says:

      Finally…

      The Drug WaR problem has come to Realize
      that the only way to solve the problem is to Legalize

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