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Legalizing Pot in the Americas? Not Very Soon

June 10, 2013
Plain English Version

Foreign ministers of Western Hemisphere nations met in Guatemala to talk about legalizing marijuana. There was not much interest in doing so.

A report by the Organization of American States suggested that legalizing the drug should be seriously discussed. Uruguay is moving to a state-regulated market. Guatemala seems to approve the idea. The president of Columbia said marijuana should be legal worldwide, but his country would not take the first step.

All the nations do not like the outcomes of the current policies – the high costs, the death tolls, the continued flow of narcotics. Nobody knows what to do about it.

Public opinion polls in the region show disapproval for the idea of legalization. The governments of the United States, Brazil, Peru, Mexico and Nicaragua oppose the idea.

Polls in countries in which there is a generational exposure to marijuana, such as the U.S., show people more comfortable with the drug.

Some countries are changing their approaches. Mexico and Peru are saying that possession or use of small amounts of the drug is not a crime. This is called “decriminalizing.”

In the United States, several states are legalizing marijuana for medicinal use. This has not changed the position of the U.S. that strategies to reduce demand and increase treatment are the ways to go.

Until the O.A.S. report, there was almost no talk about legalizing. At least the report will start a discussion. However, observers agree that the dialogue has not really begun.

Source: The New York Times

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