• Reimagining Drug Policy in the Americas

    NACLA Report on the Americas
    Summer 2014

    Latin America is now at the vanguard of international efforts to promote drug policy reform: Bolivia has rewritten its constitution to recognize the right to use the coca leaf for traditional and legal purposes, Uruguay has become the first nation in the world to adopt a legal, regulated Cannabis market, and Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala, and Ecuador are openly critiquing the prevailing international drug control paradigm at the UN. And now with the United States itself relaxing its marijuana laws state by state, the U.S. prohibitionist drug war strategies are losing credibility in the region.

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  • The drug policy reform agenda in the Americas (Version 2)

    Coletta Youngers
    IDPC Briefing Paper
    August 2013

    At the root of the drug policy debate in Latin America is growing recognition that present policies have failed to achieve the desired objectives, the extremely high costs of implementing those policies paid by Latin American countries, and the need to place higher priority on reducing unacceptably high levels of violence. Of particular concern is the spread of organized crime and the resulting violence, corruption and erosion of democratic institutions.

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  • Launching the debate

    The OAS Reports on Hemispheric Drug Policy
    Coletta Youngers
    IDPC Advocacy Note
    July 2013

    In April 2012, most of the hemisphere’s presidents gathered at the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia and held a closed-door meeting where drug policy was the only topic discussed. Following that meeting, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced that the Organisation of American States (OAS) was being tasked to analyse the results of hemispheric drug policies and to “explore new approaches to strengthen this struggle and become more effective”. Thus began a one year process led by OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza, with the support of OAS staff from the Secretariat for Multidimensional Security and the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD), as well as a range of independent experts.

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  • Breaking the taboo about drugs

    In an open letter, former Latin American leaders call for legal regulation to help undermine organised crime
    Global Commission on Drug Policy
    The Guardian (UK)
    Saturday, May 18, 2013

    After more than four decades of a failed war on drugs, calls for a change in strategy are growing louder by the day. In Latin America, the debate is positively deafening. Statesmen from Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico and Uruguay are taking the lead for transformations in their own drug regime, which has set a strong dynamic of change across the region and around the world. Their discussion has expanded to the US, where public opinion toward regulation is also changing. (See also: Western leaders study 'gamechanging' report on global drugs trade)

  • Study of the Organisation of American States (OAS)

    The objective of the reports is to find a better way to address the challenges posed by illicit drugs

    On May 17, 2013, the Secretary General of the Organisation of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, met with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos to share the results of the hemispheric review of drug policies. This task was entrusted to him by the Heads of States of the Americas at the Sixth Americas Summit held in April 2012 in Cartagena, Colombia.

  • The drug policy reform agenda in the Americas

    Coletta Youngers
    IDPC briefing paper
    May 2013

    Latin America has emerged at the vanguard of efforts to promote debate on drug policy reform. For decades, Latin American governments largely followed the drug control policies and programs of Washington’s so-called war on drugs. Yet two parallel trends have resulted in a dramatic change in course: the emergence of left-wing governments that have challenged Washington’s historic patterns of unilateralism and interventionism and growing frustration with the failure of the prohibitionist drug control model put forward by the US government.

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  • A breakthrough in the making?

    Shifts in the Latin American drug policy debate

    There is a growing recognition that current war-like strategies have failed. At the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena in April the Organisation of American States (OAS) was given a mandate to study the effectiveness of current drug policies and look into alternatives. Using the political momentum, next steps can be discussed at both a high level international conference in Lima on June 25-26, and the thematic debate of the UN General Assembly on 'Drugs and Crime as a Threat to Development' in New York on the occasion of the UN International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking on June 26. The Drugs & Democracy Programme sheds its light on policy developments in Latin America with a new briefing "A Breakthrough in the making?".

  • Latin America debates alternatives to current drug policy

    Prohibition-led policies and the devastating consequences in the region

    The debate on alternatives to the war on drugs has seen a tremendous boost in recent months. Disappointed about the meager results of prohibition-led policies and the devastating consequences of the illicit drug business in the region, several presidents have taken the initiative to bring the issue to one of the highest level intergovernmental meeting in the hemisphere. The Sixth Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, is the most important meeting of heads of states where, for the first time, alternatives to prohibition will be discussed.