Christopher Ingraham maintains that “the news coming out of Colorado and Washington is overwhelmingly positive.” And that other nations are paying attention:
Countries, particularly in Latin America, are starting to apply these lessons in order to craft smarter policies that reduce violence and other societal harms brought about by the drug war. Uruguay, for instance, has moved toward full national legalization of marijuana, with an eye toward reducing the thriving black market there. Mexico’s president has given signs he’s open to changes in that country’s marijuana laws to help combat cartel violence. The Organization of American States recently issued a statement in favor of dealing with drug use as a public health issue, rather than a criminal justice one.
Regardless the eventual direction of marijuana legalization in the U.S., steps toward reform here are already prompting other countries to seek out more pragmatic solutions to their drug problems. In short, they’re making the world a better place.
However, Ed Krayewski is underwhelmed by Uruguay’s experiment:
Just 378 people registered as of last month, and why would there be more? Uruguay’s president, Jose Mujica, who supported legalization even while warning of the illness marijuana use can lead to, is nevertheless term-limited. The front runner to succeed him, cancer doctor Tabare Vazquez, also his predecessor, is excited about using the registry to “better know who uses drugs and be able to intervene earlier to rehabilitate that person.” Meanwhile, the other candidate, center-right Luis Lacalle Pou, is opposed to legalization. Uruguay’s marijuana legalization experiment may not last much longer than Mujica’s term.
Update from a reader:
Of course legalization is going to spread across the world. After all, the main reason that draconian drug policies are in place, and have not changed already, is that the US government demanded them. And had the power to make the rest of the world go along, however reluctantly.
As soon as that driver fades, everybody gets to return to their own preferences. Which, for a lot of countries (although doubtless not all) means legalization of some drugs, and milder penalties for most. They are especially motivated, since illegal drugs are what fuels the gangs which make law and order a distant dream in so many places. Most of Latin America would probably legalize tomorrow if US policy didn’t demand that they enlist in the War on Drugs, and be grateful to be able to devote their resources to the real problems that their countries face.
(Photo: A sticker calling for the legalization of marijuana lies on the street at the annual Hemp Parade (Hanfparade) on August 9, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. Supporters of cannabis legalization are hoping legalized sale in parts of the USA will increase the likelihood of legalization in Germany. The city of Berlin is considering allowing the sale of cannabis in one city district. By Sean Gallup/Getty Images)