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Colombian President Seeks New Strategy for War on Drugs

Juan Manuel Santos

During his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said it’s time to “rethink the war on drugs.” The Colombian President stated that the war on drugs has ravaged a large part of his country. Latin America has also suffered great consequences due to the underground drug market.

This announcement comes after the Global Commission on Drug Policy called for the removal of criminal charges for drug use, according to The Mercury News. The Global Commission recommends that nations “explore regulatory models for all illicit drugs.” Criminalization of drug use has led to overcrowding in prisons and the spread of hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS.

Santos said that, “The peace agreement with the FARC includes their commitment to cut all ties with the drug business, and to actively contribute to fighting it. But drug trafficking is a global problem that demands a global solution resulting from an undeniable reality: The war on drugs has not been won, and is not being won. The manner in which this war against drugs is being waged is equally or perhaps even more harmful than all the wars the world is fighting today, combined. It is time to change our strategy.”

It is speculated that both Santos’ position on the war on drugs and the Global Commission on Drug Policy’s recent attitude change toward it stem from the growing number of U.S. states legalizing marijuana for recreational and/or medical use. In part, some also believe that treating drug abuse as a public health issue rather than a criminal offense is working.

Some countries, such as Portugal, have decriminalized personal use of drugs and offer expanded drug treatment options. Fighting a global drug issue has cost an estimated $1 trillion.