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Last week, while the Obama administration was dealing with the embarrassment of the Secret Service scandal at the Summit of Americas in Columbia, developments on the far more important issue of the failed War on Drugs were taking center stage.

It began back in March at a regional Central American meeting between Guatemalan President Oscar Pérez Molina and the presidents from Costa Rica and Panama. During the meeting, President Molina pointedly stated:

“We have realized that the strategy in the fight against drug trafficking in the past 40 years has failed. We have to look for new alternatives….”
To President Molina, this means that:
drug use, production, and sales should be legalized and regulated. He suggested that the region jointly regulate the drug trade, perhaps by establishing transit corridors through which regulated drug shipments could pass.
While no agreements by the heads of state were made at either the March meeting or at last week’s Summit of Americas, President Molina has indeed succeeded in moving this issue of critical import to all nations to the forefront of international debate. President Molina’s call was heard loud and clear by Obama inciting this response at the Summit:
“I think it is entirely legitimate to have a conversation about whether the laws in place are ones that are doing more harm than good in certain places…. I personally, and my administration’s position, is that legalization is not the answer.”
Understandably, embroiled in a re-election dogfight, Obama will not take the bait by adopting a new policy regarding drugs now. Yet, by suggesting a “conversation” is warranted he is leaving the door open to working on a change to the tired drug war approach – perhaps upon re-election, but more likely in year three of a second term. To most of us, primarily the Central American nations ravaged by the failed War on Drugs, change cannot come soon enough.

Today, the unofficial holiday of medical and recreational cannabis consumers – 4/20 – the Atlantic published a great speech Obama ought to give. It begins:

After careful consideration and a through review by the Justice Department, and with the consent and cooperation of other relevant federal agencies, I announce today that this Administration will have a new approach to the issue of medical marijuana in those states which have legalized it. Our new policies are consistent with the promises I made as a candidate, they finally make good on pronouncements I made early in my term, they are faithful in their traditional deference to states’ rights, and they sensibly redirect federal resources at a time when we need every budget dollar we can find.

I have directed the attorney general to issue a directive to all U.S. attorneys and other federal officials that they may no longer raid or threaten to prosecute medical-marijuana growers and distributors in those states that have legalized the use of the drug.

However, a federal crackdown on medical cannabis, particularly in California, is in full force, and has been since last October. Could it be that developments in nearby Central American nations are what it takes to make those inside the beltway so impervious to majority opinion on drugs in general, and cannabis specifically, finally reform the current U.S. drug policy that has so obviously failed? Maybe, maybe not.

Earlier this week, the Huffington Post highlighted an open letter by 300 economists to the President and Congress calling attention to a paper by Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron. Mr. Miron’s study asserts that the U.S. could save $13.7 billion by legalizing cannabis. Even during recessionary times this economic report is not enough to reform our archaic drug policy. So what will it take?

A perfect storm. Pressure from the south, from the north, and from within. Pressure from all of us that we’ve had enough of the lobbied interests ruining so many lives in the veiled name of their self-interest, not common sense. Enough is enough. Pick up the phone or pen – do something – our neighbors to the south depend on it.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Legalizing MJ is not the same as legalizing crack (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    IndieGuy, brasilaaron

    cocaine or meth. I think there is enough support for the former to at least merit a discussion. As to the latter I don't think it's a good idea. These are dangerous chemicals that we humans have not evolved any defenses against. We already have enough problems with tobacco we don't need more addictive substances.

    While you're on the subject of the SS scandal- legalization of prostitution would be a good idea worth discussing too. Somebody ought to start that conversation.

    •  There is always this assumption (8+ / 0-)
      These are dangerous chemicals that we humans have not evolved any defenses against. We already have enough problems with tobacco we don't need more addictive substances.

      that prohibition is doing more good than bad.  I think with the narcotics, that's what merits a discussion.  For marijuana, the evidence is so overwhelming against prohibition that the discussion is kind of a charade at this point.   Marijuana prohibition started for dishonest reasons and we just got stuck with it.  

      When the truth is only a matter of opinion, advantage goes to the liars.

      by Sun dog on Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 05:36:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Prostitution is 100% legal in the U.S. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      too many people

      It's all ready legal.

      Yes.  You can pay for sex.  Money for sex.  It's legal.

      " With religion you can't get just a little pregnant"

      by EarTo44 on Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 05:45:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I would not start (5+ / 0-)

    So, let's say starting tomorrow, cocaine were to be legal?
    How much for an 8 Ball ?  $200 ?  That is one dance, I don't care to repeat.   What if some of the best hash in the world were legal ?  What if I could drive to any of 50 pot shops near my house that sell hash, and pot ?  Would I start smoking hash again ?  Nope.  
    What if heroin were to be legal ?  Would I get this urge to start shooting up ?  Nope.
    What if Oxi were legal, and like Rush Limbaugh, I had 300 of them in my car ?  I would not start using it.

    So.  It's not like if drugs or more drugs were to become legal, I would all of the sudden dive in.  

    Here is what would happen.  People that do use drugs would use drugs.  Some might use more, some might die, some might use less.  Not as bad as cigarettes, with millions of people dying, or suffering from it's use, but you get the idea.

    So, why make drugs legal ?    To wipe out the drug cartels that are causing death.  That is a good reason.  

    " With religion you can't get just a little pregnant"

    by EarTo44 on Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 05:43:25 PM PDT

  •  Legalization is so overdue. (4+ / 0-)

    Obama is really pissing me off on this topic. If he did what you propose I would gladly contribute to his campaign again.

    There is only one planet suitable for human habitation in our solar system.

    by too many people on Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 06:22:26 PM PDT

  •  If Repubs actually wanted to balance the budget... (4+ / 0-)

    Yeah, I know. Just bear with me, I'm trying to make a point. If the Republicans actually wanted to balance the budget, they would take a good hard look at the nation's drug laws. We're spending a huge amount-IIRC on the order of $50 billion on law enforcement, etc., we're putting too many people in jail, severely weakening their prospects to get a meaningful job.

    But then again, what's the value of being true to your rhetoric when you can bash the hippies?

    Greg McKendry, Linda Kraeger, Dr. George Tiller, Steven Johns. Victims of Wingnut violence

    by Judge Moonbox on Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 06:50:35 PM PDT

  •  Sadly, no American President, including Mr. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MrJayTee, too many people

    Obama, will legalize, or decriminalize any drug that might come from Colombia, as the war on drugs is our raison de etre for a continued military presence in that country. Colombia is the springboard from which the US will launch our attacks against Venezuela, Bolivia...any South American nation that claims ownership of our oil when the time comes. And the time will come. There will be a manufactured incident. Too bad our government cannot admit the failure of our war on drugs and spend that money on alternative energy development and addiction treatment for those who want it. Then there is also the matter of the drug economy...huge amounts of unaccounted for cash. We are not trying to eradicate drugs, merely own their economy to finance projects that even American law, the American Congress and Senate would find objectionable, as was done with Iran/Contra. And all those drugs do help to keep the poor and working classes down.

    I thought I heard a boy cry, "Wolf!"

    by socalmonk on Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 10:02:11 PM PDT

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