The war on drugs is getting complicated, said Jacob Sullum in Reason. Argentina’s Supreme Court ruled that it’s unconstitutional to punish adults for private marijuana use, a big step toward decriminalizing the drug. The ruling is based on the “privacy clause” of Argentina’s constitution—private pot use doesn’t “offend public order or morality”—but it comes just days after Mexico eliminated criminal penalties for holding small amounts of drugs. And Brazil and Ecuador are close behind.
That’s not a coincidence, said Alexi Barrionuevo in The New York Times. From Mexico to Argentina there’s “an urgent desire to reject decades of American prescriptions for distinctly Latin American challenges,” including drugs. In February, ex-presidents of Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia called the U.S. “war on drugs” a “failure,” and urged Latin America to adopt the less-punitive “drug policies found in some European countries.”
The report from the three leaders may be a “big factor” in the Argentine ruling, said Joshua Keating in Foreign Policy, as well as the region’s “major rethink on drug policy.” But it “remains to be seen” if it will have any impact north of the border. U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske is taking a “wait-and-see attitude,” but President Obama has too much on his plate to “touch drug policy right now.”
Latin American leaders, especially in Mexico, wish he would, said Katie Hammel in Gadling. But while a drug policy that focuses “more on reducing harm to drug users and society” wouldn’t be a new approach to the war on drugs, I don’t see it happening “any time soon” in the U.S. Meanwhile, I’ll “stick to booze.”
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