Open letter to Presidents Felipe Calderón Hinojosa of Mexico, and Juan Manuel Santos Calderón of Colombia.
Dear President Felipe Calderón; Dear President Juan Manuel Santos:
After over 100 years of global prohibition and 40 years into the war on drugs, the demand for illicit drugs keeps spreading all over the world, fueled in part by globalization. Prohibition has created a sprawling illegal marketplace that is sowing violence and corruption all over the planet, destabilizing entire regions of the world, chief among them Central America, West Africa and Central Asia. Without a paradigm-shift in policy, there are no reasons why this destructive and hopeless war couldn’t last another 40 years.
Your countries have paid an extremely high price in this war, with no end in sight. Several of your predecessors, as well as other retired heads of state of Latin American and European countries, are openly critical of the prohibitionist policies and are calling for deep structural reforms.
The time has come for bold action. Therefore, we urge you to convene a global convention on psychoactive substances, to set up the framework for the global controlled legalization of production and trade of all psychoactive substances within willing countries. A “coalition of the willing” could unite around you, Presidents Calderon and Santos, regrouping the countries open to drawing the appropriate lessons from the failure of prohibitionism, and determined to confront the issue in a realistic and pragmatic manner.
The principal objective of such a convention should be to remove the production and commerce of currently illicit drugs from the control of organized crime, and to bring it back under the control of legitimate national and international organizations. The secondary objective should be to reduce harm throughout the entire supply chain, from the producers to the users.
President Calderón, you tried with great determination and courage to weaken the drugs cartels. Unfortunately, this war has brought destruction, terror and mayhem to your own country. Your efforts have proven futile, your successes have been Pyrrhic victories. The time has come to draw the lessons of failure. At this point in history, you have a unique opportunity to stop the bloodshed, to redeem your presidency, and to leave a lasting legacy by taking courageous steps towards deep structural drug policy reform on the global scene.
President Santos, you know that narco-trafficking will never be eradicated by enforcement in your country, or anywhere else for that matter, and that it will always remain a powerful destabilizing force. You have repeatedly stated your openness to global controlled legalization. At the same time, you acknowledge the difficulty for any country to take unilateral steps towards legalization. Now is the time to put your words into action.
For the price your countries have paid to this senseless war, and for the strategic role they are playing in it, you both have the moral authority to convene such a global convention on psychoactive substances. You can lead the Latin American countries to form around your leadership a united front for controlled legalization. You can also reach out to the other countries of the world who have shown a willingness to part with prohibition or who are deeply affected by its consequences.
With the rapid spread of drugs use and narco-trafficking around the world, global legalization of production, consumption and trade is the only pragmatic and realistic option for emerging countries, as they just do not have the resources to implement failed US-style prohibitionist policies; not to mention that it would be foolish to even try to do so.
Psychoactive drugs have been around since the dawn of humanity. They are here to stay. There will be a market for these substances, legal or illegal, whether we like it or not. Organized societies can do a far better job than organized crime at managing and controlling these substances.
Global legalization under a multi-tier “legalize, tax, control, prevent, treat and educate” regime is not only possible, it is the only long-term solution to this seemingly intractable problem. Far from giving up, and far from an endorsement, controlled legalization would be finally growing up, being realistic instead of being in denial, being in control instead of leaving control to the underworld. It would abolish the current regime of socialization of costs and privatization of profits to criminal enterprises, depriving them of their main source of income and making our world a safer place.
Dear Presidents Calderón and Santos, we plead you, do not wait to leave office before speaking out against the failed war on drugs. The time to act is now. You have the power to put an end to these hopeless and destructive policies. Be bold and lead! Future generations will thank you for your visionary initiative.
Jeffrey Dhywood, investigative writer, author of “World War D – The Case against prohibitionism, roadmap to controlled re-legalization”. www.worldwar-d.com
Gustavo de Grieff, Attorney General of Colombia (1992-1994), Ambassador of Colombia to México (1995-1998)
Santiago Roel-Rodriguez, Crime Prevention consultant pioneering government reform in Mexico since 1991. Author, lecturer – www.prominix.com
James P. Gray, retired Superior Court Judge, author of “Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed: A Judicial Indictment Of War On Drugs”, chief proponent of the “Regulate marijuana like Wine” initiative in California for 2012 http://regulatemarijuanalikewine.com/
Diego Grooscors A , Director of Alianza Costarrinces sobre politica de drogas, Costa Rica