Colombian And Mexican Presidents Reveal Worldwide Effort To Modify Drug Policy, Criticizing “Failure” Of Prohibition!

Since prohibition has “failed,” the presidents of Colombia and Mexico said they will bring together other Latin American leaders for an international conference on “redesigning and rethinking drug policy.” Both Colombian and Mexican lawmakers are working to legalize Marijuana.

On Friday, Colombian President Gustavo Petro and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said in a joint statement that they met recently to talk about “geopolitical, commercial, cultural, and development cooperation” in their two countries.

Part of this effort will be to work with the rest of the international community to find a new way forward on drug policy. This is a topic that Petro has talked about a lot since he became president earlier this year.

“Recognizing the failure of the fight against drugs and the vulnerability of our people in the face of this problem, Mexico and Colombia will hold an International Conference of Latin American leaders to redesign and rethink drug policy,” the countries said in a joint statement after Petro’s visit to Mexico last week.

It is one of more than a dozen important things on the president’s “bilateral agenda.” Even though the statement is short on details, the fact that it mentions the “failure” of the drug war and that both presidents have talked about the need for reform in the past shows that the international talks will mostly be about moving away from a model of criminalizing drugs.

Petro said that international cooperation on how to end the war on drugs is important because the current policy has caused a lot of violence, especially in the Americas. In a statement released before his meeting with López Obrador, the Colombian president said, “We are killing each other.”

“And it came about because it was illegal.” Since he became president, Petro has been very vocal about the issue. For example, in September, he gave a speech at a United Nations (UN) meeting in which he urged member nations to completely change their drug policies and stop with prohibition.

He also recently talked about the possibility of legalizing marijuana in Colombia as a way to make the black market less important. And he said that after the policy change, people who are in jail because of Marijuana should be let out. In order to do this, Colombian senators approved a bill to legalize cannabis in committee last week.

This came after the bill had already moved forward in the country’s House of Representatives. Before the Senate took action, the Colombian Minister of Justice, Néstor Osuna, said at a public hearing that the country had been hurt by “a failed war that was planned 50 years ago and brought us a lot of blood, armed conflict, mafias, and crime because of stupid Prohibitionism.”

The same month, a group of U.S. lawmakers came back from a trip to Colombia. A congressman who went on the trip told Marijuana Moment that one of the things he talked about with officials there was how the world has “lost the war on drugs.”

A top Senate official in Mexico recently said that she heard from a colleague who met with leaders in several Latin American countries that they always ask about Mexico’s efforts to end marijuana prohibition and set up a regulated market.

Separately, Mexican Sen. Patricia Mercado talked about the new commitment to drug reform made by her country’s president and the president of Colombia. She said that “if there is political will,” policy can be changed, including by legalizing cannabis. In 2018, the country’s highest court ruled that it is against the country’s constitution to make it illegal for people to own or grow cannabis for their own use.

Senate Majority Leader Ricardo Monreal, who supports reform, said in August that making rules for cannabis will (again) be one of the top legislative priorities of the new session. About four years have passed since the highest court in the country said that prohibition was against the Constitution. Since then, it has been up to Congress to change the law to reflect this.

But so far, lawmakers have not been able to agree on a bill that would set up rules for a cannabis program. On more than one occasion, lawmakers asked the court to let Congress have more time to officially end prohibition. But because there were so many missed deadlines, the justices finally decided on their own to end criminalization last year.

In late 2020, Mexico’s president said that a vote on legalization legislation was put off because of small “mistakes” in the bill. In their new joint statement, the leaders of both countries talked about holding a conference for Latin American countries.

It’s likely that the conference will also talk about recent events in the U.S., where President Joe Biden recently pardoned a large number of marijuana offenders and ordered a review of the drug’s scheduling. U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) cheered when Petro was officially sworn in as a member of Congress in August.

He said that he is looking forward to working with Petro “to rethink drug policy and a lot more.” Last year, a top Mexican senator said, “There is no room for the prohibitionist policy anymore.” She also said that the U.S. is to blame for the failure of her country’s laws to make marijuana illegal.

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