Sep 30, 2013

OAS proposes decriminalizing marijuana use in the region

September 28, 2013 
Original Americas Program Translation 

The secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, said yesterday in the Senate that the strategy to combat drug trafficking in the region has been wrong because it has focused solely on the repression of the supply of narcotics and not on attacking the economic power of the drug cartels, which has become increasingly violent.

He called for decriminalization of marijuana, and warned that focusing efforts only on the sale of drugs, without taking institutional actions aimed at tackling the financial structures and money laundering will lead to “a war without end”.

In the forum “From Prohibition to Regulation: New Approaches to Drug Policy” Insulza said that according to a report by experts from the OAS, the drug trade generates 154 billion dollars a year, of which 77 billion is laundered in the global financial system.

Also in the Senate but in another forum, Undersecretary of Prevention and Citizen Participation of the Ministry of the Interior, Roberto Campa said that despite the intense debate in the U.S. on the decriminalization of drugs like marijuana, the violence that the drug trade generates will not change radically in the region in the coming years.

Separately, Insulza explained that this report - that heads of state and government gathered in Cartagena last year commissioned the OAS to develop –stressed to open the debate on the decriminalization of drug use. He explained that 45 percent of the cocaine trafficked in the world, half of heroin and a quarter of the total marijuana and an increased the use of amphetamines is consumed in the Americas.

He stressed that according to the study, rather than decrease, the growing illegal drug trade business has given rise to an important set of economic groups and criminal organizations that leave a trail of money and violence.

During this forum, PRD and PAN legislators argued that discussion whether to legalize marijuana in Mexico cannot wait. The PRD party member Mario Delgado explained that the Senate is working on the revision of the General Health Law, in order to facilitate scientific and medical use of the drug.

The PAN party member Roberto Gil Zuarth said that the debate on the use and legalization of marijuana is an issue that cannot wait, but must have a different strategy to end or contain the impact of violence.

However, Campa Cifrián doubted that the decriminalization of marijuana in the United States would reduce violence. During a session of the work group of the Committee of Safety, Combat and Prevention of Drug Trafficking, Terrorism and Organized Crime of the Latin American Parliament, the official stated that this problem has a set of structural causes, which are basically defined by our location geographic.

“We have a three thousand mile border with a country that offers many advantages, but it also is the largest consumer of drugs in the world and that means permanent movement of drugs, weapons, illegal money and people.” 

Translated by Nidia Bautista 

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