Use of illegal drugs by politicians following prohibition

Politicians that have admitted to recreational use following prohibition include mayors, Governors, members of the House of Representatives, Senators, and Presidents. see

This is an incomplete list, which may never be able to satisfy particular standards for completeness. You can help by expanding it with reliably sourced entries.

Former Vice President of the United States Al Gore

President of the United States Barack Obama

Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin

Former Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger



Highest position



Bruce Babbitt

b. 1938

Governor of Arizona, Secretary of the Interior



Michael Bloomberg

b. 1942

Mayor of New York City



Bill Bradley

b. 1943

Senator from New Jersey



George W. Bush

b. 1946

President of the United States



Jack Conway

b. 1969

Attorney General of Kentucky



Paul Cellucci

b. 1948

Governor of Massachusetts



Lincoln Chafee

b. 1953

Senator from Rhode Island, Governor of Rhode Island



Lawton Chiles


Senator from Florida, Governor of Florida



Bill Clinton

b. 1946

President of the United States



Steve Cohen

b. 1949

Member of the House of Representatives



Andrew Cuomo

b. 1957

Governor of New York



Howard Dean

b. 1948

Governor of Vermont, Chair of the Democratic National Committee



Joseph DeNucci

b. 1939

Auditor of Massachusetts



Mary Donohue

b. ?

Lieutenant Governor of New York



John Edwards

b. 1953

Senator from North Carolina



Newt Gingrich

b. 1943

Speaker of the United States House of Representatives



Al Gore

b. 1948

Vice President of the United States



Gary Johnson

b. 1953

Governor of New Mexico



Joseph Patrick Kennedy II

b. 1952

Member of the House of Representatives



John Kerry

b. 1943

Senator from Massachusetts



Ed Koch


Member of the House of Representatives, Mayor of New York City



Richard Lamm

b. 1935

Governor of Colorado



Connie Mack III

b. 1940

Senator from Florida



Kyle E. McSlarrow

b. 1960

Deputy Secretary of the Department of Energy



John Miller

b. 1938

Member of the House of Representatives



Susan Molinari

b. 1958

Member of the House of Representatives



Jim Moran

b. 1945

Member of the House of Representatives



Evelyn Murphy

b. 1940

Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts



Richard Neal

b. 1949

Member of the House of Representatives



Barack Obama

b. 1961

President of the United States



Sarah Palin

b. 1964

Governor of Alaska



George Pataki

b. 1945

Governor of New York



David Paterson

b. 1954

Governor of New York



Edward W. Pattison


Member of the House of Representatives



Claiborne Pell


Senator from Rhode Island



Arnold Schwarzenegger

b. 1947

Governor of California



William Scranton

b. 1917

Governor of Pennsylvania, Ambassador to the United Nations



Bill Thompson

b. 1953

New York City Comptroller



Peter G. Torkildsen

b. 1958

Member of the House of Representatives



Rand Paul

b. 1963

Senator from Kentucky


Jesse Ventura

b. 1951

Governor of Minnesota




Drug legalization debate brought to the UN General Assembly

The 76th UN assembly opened its doors in New York yesterday, Monday September 24, and for the first time ever, drug legalization will be brought up by no less than three Latin American heads of state.

Both Guatemalan and Colombian presidents have scheduled talks on Wednesday and both have already announced their intention to bring up the issue of global drug policy reform.  Guatemalan president Perez Molina has been the most forthcoming, and announced his intention to ask for a global dialog about new approaches to the fight against drug trafficking, including drug legalization. He will also request a revision to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 as amended by the 1972 Protocol.  Perez Molina reiterated that the 50 years old war on drugs has failed and that it is time to look for more viable alternatives.

Colombian president Santos has been more ambiguous, and while he has been building up expectations for his upcoming talk at the UN, he also reminded that drug trafficking is punished by death penalty in many parts of the world. Let’s hope this is not what he means when he talk about “grabbing the bull by the horns”.  More likely, Santos is contrasting the two extreme approaches of free-market and death sentencing to the current failed policies. While he has been hinting for a while his support for controlled regulation, so far, he has failed to take a resolute stand.

The case of Calderon is more puzzling. Yesterday, September 24, the Mexican president, whose term ends on December 1st, conceded: “ Let’s be honest, I don’t see any [solution] other than the regulation of drugs in the global marketplace, starting here, in the United States.” (“Seamos honestos: no se me ocurre otra que no sea la regulación de las drogas en el mercado global, empezando por aquí, por Estados Unidos”).  He then lamented the 60,000 deaths caused by his own militarization of the fight against narco-trafficking. Where was he for the past 6 years? Will Calderon join the exclusive but growing club of retired heads of states asking for drug policy reform? As it seems that his market approach epiphany dates back to 2011 at least, one wonders why he didn’t act on it while he was in position to do so. As for his successor Enrique Peña Nieto, he has been wavering back and forth and his position seems hard to pinpoint, but as recently as Monday September 4th, he has been encouraged by Calderon himself to explore other alternatives, the codeword for legalization.

It is significant that the debate is brought up by three conservative, well-respected heads of state with impeccable credentials, representing countries that have paid a very high price in the war on drugs. While it is doubtful that the UN discourses about drug policy reform could result in any concrete action in the near future, it still marks a significant shift, especially as the UN Assembly is an opportunity for multilateral exploratory contacts that may coalesce down the line into a coalition of the willing to legalize.  Santos will meet in New York with UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who advocated drug policy reform before assuming office, but backed off since then. The path to global drug policy reform must pass through the UN sooner or later. This could be the exploratory stage of the process.

Santos has repeatedly affirmed his support for controlled legalization, always adding the caveats that legalization can only work globally, that it cannot be implemented unilaterally, and that he doesn’t want to take the lead of a coalition for legalization. Still, someone will need to bite the bullet and take the lead sooner or later. Perez Molina has tried to assume this role since taking office last January, but Guatemala is a clout-less, small impoverished country emerging from a brutal civil war; it was considered a pariah state plagued by human right abuses and systemic corruption until very recently. Molina was met with staunch opposition by his immediate neighbors Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador. Only Costa Rica responded favorably to Perez Molina’s initiative, who also got the ambiguous support of Colombia. Drug legalization was discussed at the April 15-16 OAS (Organization of American States) Summit in Cartagena, Colombia, but such discussion didn’t go much further than the acknowledgment that legalization is a valid point of discussion. As usual, a commission has been created to study drug policy alternatives, with a report scheduled for publication in June 2013; considering that the report will need the US and Canadian seal of approval, expectations shouldn’t be set too high.

Bottom-line: as Perez Molina is acutely aware, a Latin American coalition for drug policy reform won’t go anywhere without Colombia and Mexico onboard, and Latin America is the only part of the world where global drug policy reform can be initiated. Nevertheless, even if a lot remains to be done, we must acknowledge the astounding progress made since January of this year. A taboo has undoubtedly been broken; drug policy reform has become an almost mandatory topic at international meetings involving Latin America countries. Tiny Uruguay is debating the legalization of marijuana under state control; after having been dubbed the Switzerland of Latin America, Uruguay could very well become the Portugal of Latin America. The prospect of marijuana legalization in Uruguay has been met with surprisingly tepid opposition from the UN and the US, who might secretly welcome a sort of social and regulatory laboratory in this prosperous, non-strategic country with a long tradition of independence and great human rights records.

The November elections in the US could also be a game-changer if marijuana legalization initiatives are approved in Colorado and Washington State as polls seem to indicate. Such a move would most likely embolden Latin America.

Finally, we should keep our eyes open for the 22nd Ibero-America Summit, November 16 – 17 2012 in Cadiz, hosted by Spain and attended by Portugal and most Latin American countries. Portugal and Spain having some of the most liberal drug policies in the world, this summit should offer a favorable environment for an open debate on drug policy reform. Scheduled after the November US election, it might embolden Colombia and Mexico to take more assertive positions, especially if marijuana legalization initiatives succeed in Washington and/or Colorado.

Jeffrey Dhywood
Investigative writer,
Author of “World War D – The Case against prohibitionism, roadmap to controlled re-legalization”

Download a free 50 pages excerpt of  “World war-D”

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Follow me on Twitter: @JDhywood

Become a better informed activist and support global drug policy reform! Order your own copy of “Word War-D”

  • The reference book on the War on Drugs and prohibitionism
  • A guide to psychoactive substances and substance abuse
  • A blueprint for global drug policy reform and controlled legalization

(Click here to order “World War-D” from Amazon)

If you agree with our views, please share this post to support our cause. Send it to at least 5 of your friends, post it on social networks, on your blogs, etc.

Further reading:

Apoya la iniciativa de legalización de mariguana en Uruguay

[emailpetition id=”2″]

Click here for English version

Por favor, agregue su nombre para apoyar la legalización de la marihuana en Uruguay, y haga clic en la parte inferior del formulario para firmar.

También puedes twittear a:

  • Presidencia de Uruguay: @SCpresidenciauy
  • Senador Jorge Larrañaga, @guapolarranaga, líder de Alianza Nacional
  • Pedro Bordaberry @PedroBordaberry, presidente del CEN Colorado y quien fuera ministro de Industria y Turismo en el gobierno de Jorge Batlle, primer jefe de estado en proponer la legalización de las drogas en 2000

Para leer más sobre la iniciativa de ley:

La declaración a medios de la presidencia uruguaya:

Para leer más sobre el Presidente Mujica:

Conviértete en un activista mejor informado!
Apoya la reforma global de la política de drogas!
Pida su propia copia de “World War-D”, el libro de referencia sobre el prohibicionismo, sustancias psicoactivas y la reforma de la política de drogas (disponible solamente en Ingles por el momento)!

Jeffrey Dhywood

Autor de investigación y análisis de “World War D – The Case against prohibitionism, roadmap to controlled re-legalization”

Twitter: @JDhywood


US caught in a time warp at VI Summit of Americas amidst sex scandal

Gaping abyss between words and deeds at the VI Summit of the Americas as US claims equal partnership while gringoing Latin America with sex scandal, veto, stonewalling.
While US secret services are sent packing amidst a scandal over a week-long boozing with prostitutes, Obama declares “We’ve never been more excited about the prospect of working as equal partners with our brothers and sisters in Latin America and the Caribbean”. Obama also hailed the potential to boost trade between the “nearly a billion consumers” of North and South America. That’s for the words.
Now for the deeds: The final summit declaration was stalled over the issue of Cuba, with 32 nations supporting its inclusion in the next Summit of the Americas, but the United States vetoing that.
Latin American leaders are also pressuring the United States for an overhaul of anti-drug policies, including possible narcotics legalization as a way to take profits out of the trade. Many in Latin America feel a new approach is needed to the drug war – and a shift away from hard-line policies – after decades of violence, in producer and trafficking nations like Colombia and Mexico. Surprise, surprise, Obama was firm in rejecting calls to legalize either growing or consuming drugs.
So, the gringo version of equal partnership remains: “My way or the freeway”.
Obama also got an earful on U.S. expansionist monetary policy, with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff  declaring: “The way these countries, the most developed ones, especially in the euro region in the last year, have reacted to the crisis with monetary expansion has produced a monetary tsunami…Obviously we have to take measures to defend ourselves. Note the word I chose – ‘defend,’ not ‘protect,'”, a view shared by President Santos who added: “In some way, (they) are exporting their crisis to us via the appreciation of our currencies.”
And for some of the consequences: China has taken advantage of perceived U.S. neglect and is now the main trade partner for various countries, including regional powerhouse Brazil.
And Obama laments: “And sometimes I feel as if in some of these discussions, or at least the press reports, we’re caught in a time warp, going back to the 1950s and gunboat diplomacy and Yankees and the Cold War, and this and that and the other.”
The US, not the Latin American countries, is caught in a time warp. The world is changing, and changing fast, and the US is in total denial about it.

As a reminder:
To mark the importance of the first open debate about drug legalization at a major international summit, “World war-D”, the reference book on prohibitionism, the War on Drugs and controlled legalization, is available with a 50% discount in paperback or ebook format. This offer is valid for 3 days only and will expire Monday April 16, 2012.

Ebook (movi/kindle, epub/nook, pdf)
List price: $11.99 $5.99 (50%off)

Paperback 448 pages, 6×9
Cover price: $19.99 $9.99 (50%off)
when you order from

You can also order from Amazon

“World War-D” is the most articulate and comprehensive indictment of prohibitionism and the War on Drugs, with a realistic and pragmatic pathway out of it. No matter where you stand on drug prohibition, you will get a much clearer understanding of the issue in all of its multi-faceted complexity and with a global perspective. The book will prove invaluable to policy-makers, activists and concerned citizens alike. Anybody willing to look at the issue with an open mind will be able to take a far more informed position.
Help spread the word! I encourage you to share “World War-D” and promote it to your friends and family. We cannot allow the War on Drugs to go on for another 40 years!
Thank you for your support.

I am also the author of an initiative that i urge you to support, calling on Presidents Calderon of Mexico and President Santos of Colombia to take the lead of a global coalition for legalization and control of currently illicit drugs. Check Sign the open letter to Presidents Calderon and Santos,, spread the word.

Jeffrey Dhywood
Investigative writer
Twitter: @JDhywood

Instructions for the promotion of the petition in support of Guatemalan president’s call for drug legalization

Thank you all for signing this petition. I now need your help in spreading the word. Here are some suggestions:

  • Send an email to at least 5 of your friends to promote the petition, asking them to sign it (see underneath a sample email, or write your own).
  • If you do broadcast email campaigns, you should send at least 3 emails, 2 days apart.
  • Post a link to the petition on your own wall. Post if 3 to 4 times per week.
  • Post a link to the petition on the wall of your friends
  • Post a link to the petition on the wall of the groups you follow that are concerned with drug policy
  • If you use twitter, tweet the petition.
  • Send letters to the editors or comments either online, or to your local press.
  • If you belong to a group, try to get your group to endorse this movement

Re-tweet my own tweets, ask your friends to re-tweet. Re-tweeting is a great way to generate a buzz. My Twitter account:  @JDhywood.

Post on the Facebook pages of President Molina and his vice-president Roxana Baldetti, as well as all the regional leaders, from Panama to Mexico. Send them emails when possible. Be courteous and respectful please!

Contact AVAAZ

Many people have commented that this petition is made for AVAAZ and I couldn’t agree more. With AVAAZ behind us, we would rapidly reach 100,000s signers. AVAAZ has more mobilizing power than anybody else in the world, and considering their past history of support for drug policy reform, they ought to support the Perez Molina petition. This is the message I would like you all to send to AVAAZ.

You can contact AVAAZ in different ways:

Through their Facebook page:!/Avaaz?sk=wall

Through Twitter: @Avaaz

By filling out the online form:

Please refer to the petition by its link:

You could send a Tweet such as: The Perez Molina petition in support of Guatemalan legalization proposal is made for AVAAZ! Please help! @Avaaz

Links and resources to promote the petition:

Summit of the Americas:

There is a virtual community with discussion groups and forums.

How to contact Latin American presidents:

President Otto Perez Molina of Guatemala:  Twitter: @ottoperezmolina. Facebook page:!/ottoperezpp

Vicepresidenta, Roxana Baldetti, Twitter: @roxanabaldetti . Facebook:!/roxanabaldettipp Facebook:

President Felipe Calderon of Mexico:

@FelipeCalderon Sígueme



By mail:


Edificio 10, Planta baja,
Col. Centro, Deleg. Cuauhtémoc.
C.P. 06067. México, Distrito Federal.

President Juan-Manuel Santos of Colombia:


How to contact the medias – best is a letter to the editor:

Send the petition or a letter of your own to your local newspapers and publications. Here are 2 sites with lots of media contacts: and

Support Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

LEAP has been fighting in the trenches for the past 10 years. They deserve our support!

Diffuse, promote, share, be an activist!Act now!


Here is a sample message you can use for your email campaigns or your social network posts:

I need your help to promote the petition “Support Guatemalan president’s call for drug legalization”

The petition has already reached 6,300 signers, but we need far more than that. There will be on March 24th a meeting in Guatemala of 7 regional presidents (Panamá, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, & Belize) to discuss the Perez Molina initiative. I am trying to collect as many signatures as possible to deliver at the meeting. Three weeks later, 34 countries will attend the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, and drug legalization will be high on the agenda. This will be the first time ever that legalization is debated at a major international Summit! It is an opportunity that we cannot afford to waste.

This is an unprecedented event and all activists should take advantage of this opportunity to generate massive mobilization of support for significant and meaningful debate on drug policy reform, especially as obstruction can be expected from the US. There is a window of opportunity here, where a truthful debate might finally take place (despite US efforts at nipping it in the bud), and we have the opportunity to influence this debate. We cannot stay on the sideline and we have to get involved.

Can you help?

Many thanks!

Drug legalization debate gaining momentum in Central America

Honduras President invite Colombia and Mexico to the March 24 SICA meeting in Guatemala

On March 9, Honduran president Porfirio Lobo Sosa, acting as the SICA president and at the request of its members, invited Colombia and Mexico to join the next meeting of the Central American Integration System (SICA) in Guatemala on March 24.  Both presidents Santos and Calderon accepted the invitation. The meeting will focus on the recent proposal by Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina to legalize drugs.

Lobo Sosa notably declared: “President Calderón, President Santos, and the leaders of the Central American isthmus have agreed that the manner in which we are [dealing with drug trafficking] is not the solution because we continue to lose human lives.”

Although the debate has been brewing for a while, the first expression of regional discontent came on December 6th, 2011, with the publication of a declaration calling for the exploration of “regulatory or market oriented options”, signed by 10 heads of states of the Central-American and Caribbean region members of the Tuxtla System for Dialogue.

The current debate was launched by Guatemalan president Otto Perez Molina, a former general elected on a law and order platform. Perez Molina surprised everyone a few days after taking office in January 14th, 2012 when he declared the war on drugs a failure and asked for an open debate to explore alternatives, including legalization. Following discussions with Colombian President Santos, President Perez Molina further declared on February 11th his intention to present his proposal for drug legalization at the April 14-15 Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia. He sent his Vice-President Roxana Baldetti on a tour to promote his proposal to regional leader on February 29th.

The move was greeted by a quick rebuke from the US government, who dispatched Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano to the region on February 28th, one day ahead of Roxana Baldetti’s own tour. Napolitano was followed by US vice-president Joe Biden, who visited Mexico to reiterate US commitment to the War on Drugs, before heading to the March 6 meeting of the Central American Integration System (SICA) hosted by president Porfirio Lobo Sosa in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

Considering President Lobo Sosa initial opposition to legalization, this latest move represents an interesting development. In his declaration, President Lobo Sosa affirmed  “This very important proposal is something that we need to assess and manage in a positive way so that, if the discussion is successful, we can offer to the world a better solution, if we are able to find it, to the terrible problem of narco-trafficking.”

This latest development reaffirms the determination of Latin American countries to the legalization debate and seems to indicate a willingness to accelerate the process in preparation for the Summit of the Americas on April 14-15. While the March 6 SICA meeting, undoubtedly hold off by Biden presence at the meeting, didn’t produce much more than an intent to open the debate, we can expect concrete proposals at the March 24th meeting. President Perez Molina announced that workgroups are actively preparing the details of his proposal.

There are good reasons to suspect that Colombian president Santos has been involved with the Perez Molina initiative from the very start, as alluded to by Perez Molina himself. The fact that President Santos is now coming out more openly is significant. Colombia is considered the best US ally in the War on Drugs, and is often touted as a success story and a model by the US anti-drug apparatus. The Colombian themselves have a more measured appreciation. While there has been undeniable progress since the peak of narco-violence in the 1990s, Santos himself acknowledges that the problem is contained at best. Colombia is still the main cocaine producer in the world and while the mega-cartels of the past may have been destroyed, it has opened the gates to the Mexican cartels and has resulted in an explosion of mini-cartels. The loss of its Colombian ally would be a major blow to the US anti-drug strategy, a blow that could prove fatal if Mexico was to join the legalization camp.

It is too early to say where the Perez Molina initiative will lead to, and what its true objectives may be. It may be a ploy to increase pressure on the US government to allocate more resources to the region, as has been argued. On the other hand, if any lesson can be drawn from the Colombian and Mexican experience, it is quite obvious that their war-like strategy came at a very high human cost for these countries. Central American countries have borne the brunt of narco-violence for the past three decades and as this violence keeps increasing, they seem to be genuinely ready to call it quits and to be looking for more realistic and workable alternatives. These already impoverished countries do not have the resources to deploy a US style prohibitionist system, and it would be folly for them to even attempt to. They are plagued by systemic corruption, youth unemployment, poor education and gang violence. Their gang problem itself is largely the result of the US policy of deportation of illegal immigrants with criminal records to their native countries. As the US prison system is a notorious training ground for criminals, where inmates are far more dangerous when they get out than they were when they got in, the US has been sending droves of hardened criminals south of their border, with catastrophic consequences for the receiving countries. This, added to the constant flow of weapons flooding the region because of the US impotence at regulating its own gun industry, is adding to the profound discontent in the region, which is tired to take the blame and pay the price for an issue that they rightly perceive as being imposed onto them.

In any case, it would be well advised for all the drug policy reform activists the world over to come resolutely in support of the Perez Molina initiative and to contribute as much as possible to the debate going on in Latin America.

I have argued for quite some time, most notably in my recently published “World War-D”, that Latin America is the only part of the world where drug policy reform can emerge. We might be witnessing this emergence and might be on the verge of a major paradigm shift in drug policy.

This, folks, is history in the making. Be part of it! To that effect, I invite you to sign and promote the Perez Molina petition:

Jeffrey Dhywood is an investigative writer, author of “World War D – The Case against prohibitionism, roadmap to controlled re-legalization” Follow on Facebook: or Twitter: @JDhywood

Jeffrey Dhywood
Investigative Writer

Drug legalization on the agenda at the April 14-15 Summit of the Americas, in Cartagena, Colombia

The so-called War on Drugs has been going on for over 40 years, but despite the colossal resources that have been thrown at this failed social experiment, the world’s appetite for illicit substances keeps heading stubbornly upwards and drug–trafficking is as flourishing as ever, sowing mayhem and chaos all over the planet. To whoever is willing to analyze the issue without ideological or moralist goggles, it is painfully obvious that this doomed war is even less winnable than the war in Afghanistan (or the war in Iraq for that matter), and has been going on four times longer, at a far higher cost. The list of retired world leaders speaking out against drug prohibition and calling for a paradigm shift on drug policy is growing by the day, and includes former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and a long string of ex-presidents, ex-drug czars and top drug-warriors, most notably from Latin America. The flow of retired high-level officials coming out of the War on Drugs closet is turning into a stampede.

Unfortunately, it was so far considered political suicide for lawmakers of all nationalities, kept in tight line under the hawkish watch of US Prohibitionist-in-chief, to acknowledge the abysmal failure of the War on Drugs while they were in office. Colombian President Santos was a notable exception, tiptoeing over a careful legalization line even before he was elected, and keeping his stance once in office. Mexican president Calderon started his mandate with a fierce determination to tackle the problem once and for all, but nearing the end of his 6 years term, and after a semi-official body count toppling 50,000, doubt seems to be creeping in. His determination was first shaken by the Monterrey massacre in August 2011, while the fast-and-furious debacle rightly infuriated him. The first expression of regional discontent came on December 6th, 2011, with the publication of a declaration calling for the exploration of “regulatory or market oriented options”, signed by 10 heads of states of the Central-American and Caribbean region members of the Tuxtla System for Dialogue.

But the big surprise came from Guatemala where, a few days after taking office in January 14th, 2012, President Perez Molina, a former general elected on a law and order platform, started talking about legalization as a way out of the War on Drugs conundrum. Following discussions with Colombian President Santos, President Perez Molina further declared on February 11th his intention to present a proposal for drug legalization in Central America at the April 14-15 Summit of the Americas. Guatemalan Vice-President Roxana Baldetti started a tour to discuss the proposal with regional leaders and garner support for it, starting with Panama, Costa Rica and Salvador on February 29th.

Unsurprisingly, the move was greeted by a quick rebuke from the US government, who dispatched Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano to the region on February 28th, one day ahead of Roxana Baldetti’s own tour. Napolitano gained support for the continuation of the war on drugs from the Presidents of Costa Rica, Salvador and Panama, three of Baldetti’s prime targets. Suspecting arm-twisting would of course be disingenuous. Earlier in that tour, Napolitano declared that the Mexican war on drugs was not a failure, despite its 50,000 body count, though she came short of calling it a success. How do you spell denial? But then, if the war on Iraq is the new benchmark, the most dismal failure can be touted as success.

It is remarkable that Baldetti still managed to get the support of Costa Rica and, more ambiguously, El Salvador. On Sunday March 3rd came the announcement that the US administration is now sending VP Biden himself, a staunch supporter of the war on drugs, to tour the region.

President Perez Molina’s initiative is unprecedented and marks the first time since the launching of the War on Drugs by Richard Nixon in 1971 that a foreign head of state actively challenges the US-led policies of drug prohibition and try to build a coalition against it. A former top-brass Guatemalan military, President Perez Molina has impeccable credentials to launch such a move. Guatemala is on the major transit route from Colombia to the US and drug violence has exploded there over the past few years, turning this already impoverished and unstable country into one of the most dangerous countries in the world.

It remains to be seen whether President Perez Molina will be able to withstand the US pressure. A lot will depend on the attitude of Colombia and Mexico, the most influential countries in the region. Should these countries decide to seriously explore alternatives to the War on Drugs and move resolutely towards more pragmatic and realistic policies, the balance of power would be drastically altered and other countries could be persuaded to align behind them, but nothing can happen without Colombia and Mexico onboard.

There are reasons to believe that the recent development represent a lasting shift in Latin American approach to the intractable drug trafficking problem that has caused tremendous damage to the region over the past 3 decades. There is growing realization that the current prohibitionist approach is powerless to tackle the issue, as any apparent success on one front just displaces the problem. Methamphetamines displace cocaine. Guatemala replaces Mexico. A splinter of mini-cartels take over mega-cartels after their demise, in endless vicious circles. Violence is contained, at best, as seems to be currently the case in Colombia.

Latin American deeply resents that the US has long blamed producing and transiting countries while being unwilling and unable to curb demand at home. Adding fuel to the resentment is the constant flow of US weaponry and the extremely lax US gun laws that US lawmakers are too terrified to challenge. Latin Americans also realize that they are bearing the brunt of the human cost of a war that has been largely imposed on them, and were they somewhat feel as innocent bystanders, especially in transiting countries.

More worrisome, the region is facing a drug problem of its own as drug-related services and transactions are often paid in kind, a move started by the cartels in the late 80s. The substances used as payment end up fueling an explosion of the local demand. As a result, the turf wars between gangs and cartels are increasingly fought over local territories rather than transit routes. The most vulnerable, children, youths and women are cannon fodder on the front line, used as lookouts, couriers, mules or even hired guns.

At the same time, Latin American countries are increasingly eager to assert their independence from their often over-bearing Northern neighbor. The current power vacuum in the US, where the government is practically held hostage by a fanatical political fringe, reinforces this desire for independence and creates favorable conditions. The intransigence displayed by the Obama administration and Janet Napolitano might end up backfiring. The time is gone when the US could dictate its fiat to the region. Its strategy of string-attached aid, which often amounts to intimidation and bribery, eerily mirrors the “plomo o plata” strategy of the drug cartels.

I have argued for quite some time, most notably in the recently released “World War-D” that drug policy reform will start in Latin America, and be lead by Colombia and Mexico. We might be witnessing history in the making, but there might be ways to force the hands of history.

Recent history has shown the power of public opinion. We all need to show our support to President Perez Molina and his potential Latin American allies. Colombia and Mexico must rise to the occasion. We also need to put pressure on the Obama administration to ensure that it doesn’t stall Perez Molina’s proposal, and that it allows a truthful debate at the April 14-15 Summit of the Americas and beyond.

This is why I created a petition to US President Obama, Guatemala President Otto Perez Molina, and Vice-President Roxana Baldetti, Mexico President Calderon, Colombia President Santos and presidents of Panama, Costa Rica, Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. The petition can be found at:

Jeffrey Dhywood is an investigative writer, author of “World War D – The Case against prohibitionism, roadmap to controlled re-legalization” Follow on Facebook: or Twitter: @JDhywood

LEAP endorses petition in support of Perez Molina initiative – help needed for AVAAZ

Update on the Perez Molina Initiative and petition, 3/1/2012

Welcome to the new signers and thank you again to those who received the previous updates. I hope they are useful and informative. Most of all, I hope they keep you motivated and eager to do more to promote this initiative. Make no mistake folks, this is one of the most significant developments in drug policy reform in a long time, and we cannot afford to waste this opportunity.

Underneath, I will give you some hints on actions you can take to help spread the word. You can find more tips and links at: Feel free to be as creative as you want and come up with your own strategy. Let me know what worked for you, to share with others.

LEAP endorsed today the petition in support of the Perez Molina initiative. People can now sign directly from LEAP website It will be broadcasted to their 50,000 + members over the next few days, so we should expect some amazing bumps in the numbers.

The petition is also posted on the ENCOD website (European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies) Thank you to whoever posted it there.

I encourage everybody to contact any groups or forums that may promote the petition.

I contacted AVAAZ and could use your help to get their attention. You can go to and fill up the form. The more request they get to support the petition, the more likely they are to take it over. There is the option to create a new petition on, but that wouldn’t give us just the AVAAZ platform, not the AVAAZ logistical support. It might be best to be consistent when we contact them. Underneath are the title and copy of my message:

Support the Guatemalan President Perez Molina Initiative for drug legalization

You may be aware of the recent developments on the drug policy reform front in Latin America, starting with the Tuxtla declaration on December 6th, and the recent proposal put forward by Guatemalan president Perez Molina, to raise the issue of legalization at the sixth Summit of the Americas on April 14-15, 2012. For the first time ever, legalization will be debated at a major international Summit, with the leaders of the 34 countries of the Americas in attendance! This is an unprecedented event. All activists should take advantage of this opportunity to generate massive mobilization of support for significant and meaningful debate on drug policy reform, especially as obstruction can be expected from the US.

In support of this action, was initiated on Monday February 27, 2012, a petition in support of Guatemalan president’s call for drug legalization Considering your history of support for drug policy reform, I kindly request your help for its promotion. Having the logistical support of AVAAZ would give this action the exposure it deserves. This can and should be one of the largest AVAAZ campaign ever, similar in scope to the action you had last year on drug policy reform.

Please feel free to contact me for any clarification you may need. Thank you for your consideration.

You may also contact AVAAZ founder Ricken Patel on Facebook:!/rickenpatel77

Update on the Perez Molina Initiative

Despite the hurried dispatch, one day ahead of Roxana Baldetti’s own tour, of Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano on a tour of the region on February 28th to drum up support for the War on Drugs, Guatemala managed to get the support of Costa Rica so far.

The UK government quickly aligned behind the US position, but the powerful British Inter-parliamentary group on drug policy reform was just as quick to warmly embrace the Perez Molina initiative.

Colombia and Mexico are still on the sidelines and haven’t reacted yet to the Guatemalan proposal. A lot will depend on the attitude of these two most influential countries in the region. Should these countries decide to seriously explore alternatives to the War on Drugs and move resolutely towards more pragmatic and realistic policies, the balance of power would be drastically altered and other countries could be persuaded to align behind them, but nothing can happen without Colombia and Mexico onboard.

Therefore, if you live in Colombia or Mexico, or if you have friends and contact there, please sign and diffuse the petition. Reach out as much as you can in Latin America. Perez Molina talked about a regional meeting to discuss his proposal on March 6 and 7. Between now and then, we must drum up as much support as we can.

Finally, I have been sending press releases and 2 have been published so far. Feel free to send as many press-releases as you want. You can also write opinion pieces or letters to the editor. Feel free to use the material found on my blog ( or write your own. If you could help me translate some of this material in Spanish, that would be great. You can reach me at

Feedback from signers

I got a lot of wonderful feedback and I apologize for not being able to reply to everybody.

LEAP co-founder and chair, Jack Cole wrote: “I am the co-founder and Board chair of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). I am also a retired detective lieutenant—26 years with the New Jersey State Police and 14 in their Narcotic Bureau, mostly undercover. I bear witness to the abject failure of the U.S. war on drugs and to the horrors produced by this self-perpetuating, constantly expanding policy disaster. You have the backing of LEAP’s 50,000 police, judges, prosecutors and supporters in 86 countries.”

Neill Franklin: “As the executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), our organization of over 50,000 supporters worldwide, support this petition.”

Jude Hider, from the UK, summed up the sentiment of many: “Dear President Otto Perez Molina & Vice-President Roxana Baldetti thank you very much for this courageous action.”

Blueprint for legalization and control

One of pillars of the prohibitionist propaganda is the claim that legalization of the currently illicit drugs would create an addiction epidemic of biblical proportion, but this stickiest of prohibitionist fallacies doesn’t withstand closer examination. On the contrary, as I demonstrate in great lengths in my recently released “World War-D”, the current prohibitionist regime increases the harmful consequences of drug use and generates a whole set of harms of its own, chief among them, the narco-violence that is spreading like cancer all over the world. In fact, a properly regulated marketplace would not only wipe out narco-violence, it could contain and reduce substance abuse and dramatically reduce its societal harm. Focus should be placed on the real issue, which is problem use: abuse and addiction. Moderate use should only be addressed insofar as it may lead to problem use.

(Excerpts and comments from “World War D – The Case against prohibitionism, roadmap to controlled re-legalization” – get

By Jeffrey Dhywood –

Pragmatic strategies for containment of abuse and control of psychoactive substances in a properly regulated marketplace

At the root of all the evils unleashed by drug prohibition and the War on Drugs are the illegal trade and the illegal marketplace it created and nurtured, out of which most other harms derive. Moreover, prohibition-induced harm far outweighs usage-induced harm. Consequently, the primary goal of any substance abuse reform should be black market reduction. With proper international coordination, the black market can be marginalized to the point of not being a significant threat.

Formulating clear and realistic objectives

In order to design effective strategies, it is critical to have clear and realistic objectives. Therefore, I propose the following hierarchy of goals:

  1. To greatly reduce, dismantle and, if possible, eliminate the illegal drug market. To reduce the presence and influence of organized crime. To reduce drug-related crime. The dismantling and elimination of the illegal drug market requires the dismantling of the prohibition system that created it in the first place. Elimination of the illegal drug marketplace will not eliminate organized crime, but it will weaken it substantially.
  2. To reduce harm to existing users through safe and controlled legal access. To reduce the number of abusers/addicts; to reduce drug related deaths; to improve the health of remaining users/addicts; to improve their social integration.
  3. To reduce or eliminate the financial burden placed on taxpayers by the consequences of drug use and drug prohibition. To achieve taxpayer neutrality.
  4. To control and greatly minimize access to minors; eliminating access to minors altogether might be a laudable goal, but it is about as realistic as absolute sexual abstinence to reduce teen pregnancy.
  5. To reduce initiation, especially among minors. Long-term improvements are predicated on substantially curbing initiation.
  6. To reduce harm caused by problematic users to their proximate environment and to society at large.
  7. To prevent as much as possible moderate, responsible users from becoming problem users. To place reasonable access restrictions to the most damaging substances for new users and casual users.
  8. To acknowledge the legitimacy of the non-medical use of psychoactive substances and the potential danger of their abuse.
  9. To respect the civil liberties and lifestyle choices of informed, consenting adults as long as these choices do not intentionally endanger others. To end discrimination against users of psychoactive substances.

I believe these are realistic and attainable goals provided that the right policies are put in place. Unlike the fairly rigid prohibitionist model, there should be a lot of flexibility in the application of drug reform to allow for experimentation and adaptation to local realities. It should be obvious by now that those who wish to use psychoactive substances will go to great lengths to satisfy their desire and it is far more advantageous for society to satisfy their need than to let the black market take care of it. The guiding concern shouldn’t be whether it is moral or immoral to provide psychoactive substances to those consenting adults who which to use them, but what is the least harmful way to do it.

Policies shouldn’t be set in stone, but should rather be a work in progress, especially in the initial stage. Containment of abuse and reduction of the spread of use of the most dangerous substances should be the top priorities in the initial phase. Last but not least, regulations and policies should be practically and efficiently enforceable. Unrealistic goals based on faulty premises typically have disastrous unintended consequences for which society bears a heavy cost. Drug policies should strive to minimize the potentially harmful consequences of drug use and not create a whole set of far worse harms of its own.

A properly designed controlled legalization should be based on some basic facts and observations:

  • People have used psychoactive substances for medicinal, ritual and recreational purpose since the dawn of humanity and are not likely to give it up anytime soon.
  • The vast majority of psychoactive substances are already legal and more or less efficiently controlled. Such is the case for caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and prescription drugs. The legal status of particular substances does not appear to be related to their harmful potential. The regulatory framework for legalization is already in place and would just require adjustments.
  • The younger the age of onset of use of any psychoactive substance, the higher the potential for abuse in later life. People who haven’t used any substance by the time they reach their early 20s are very unlikely to ever abuse. Postponing the age of substance initiation is therefore the most efficient way to contain and reduce abuse. Paradoxically, under the prohibitionist regime, minors often have easier access to illicit drugs than adults. They are primary targets of drug dealers and foot soldiers and cannon fodder of narco-trafficking, especially in developing countries.
  • The prohibitionist regime pushes users towards the most dangerous substances and the most dangerous modes of administration. A properly regulated marketplace would nudge users towards the least dangerous substances by placing barrier of access commensurate to the potential harm of each substance and each mode of administration.
  • The accelerated industrialization of emerging countries brought about rapid and largely chaotic urbanization, causing social dislocation and breakdown of traditional norms. This in turn lowers barriers to deviance, providing a fertile ground for criminal elements to flourish and for the spread of substance abuse. As a result, illicit drug use is on the rise in most of the world, fueled in part by the global youth culture, permeated by drug culture from its pop stars to its sports stars.
  • The problem is exacerbated in transiting countries, as many drug transactions are paid in kind, feeding the local drug market, creating one where it previously didn’t exist. Thus, narco-violence in transiting countries is increasingly related to control of local markets rather than control of transiting routes. Latin America has been hit particularly hard, with casualties exceeding 50,000 in Mexico alone over the past 6 years, while all of Central America, especially Guatemala, Honduras and Salvador, is engulfed in narco-violence.
  • Emerging countries cannot afford to spare their already stretched resources on implementing efficient prohibitionist policies when even developed countries, despite all theirs resources, have been unable to do so.
  • Bottom line: Organized societies should be capable to do a far better job than organized crime at managing and controlling the currently illicit substances.

Understanding the illegal drugs market place

For all practical purposes, the illegal drug market place operates like a network marketing system. It is all based on contacts with each link usually knowing only those immediately before and after him; protection and secrecy increase as you move up the supply-chain. The substances reach the end-consumer through convoluted circuits with myriads of interconnected intermediaries where the last link in the supply chain are typically heavy users and addicts, who often resell to casual users in order to subsidize their habit. Just like with alcohol or tobacco, heavy users and addicts represent 80 to 90% of the market, depending on the substance. In the case of illegal drugs, heavy users and addicts supply 80 to 90% of the casual users, and do most of the recruiting and initiation. They are also, by far, the weakest link in the supply-chain. Removing heavy users and addicts from the supply-chain can shrink the market by over 90%. In order to fill the void, mid to low-level wholesalers, the typical suppliers to heavy users and addicts, and used to operating in relative shadow, would need to reach out to casual users or try to recruit initiates, an unreliable marketplace, and one filled with the most perils.

Trying to put all heavy users and addicts behind bars is not the solution though. It would be (and has been) an extremely costly exercise in futility. One key part of my proposed strategy consists in effectively and inexpensively removing heavy users and addicts from the supply-chain.

In order to remove abusers and addicts from the supply-chain and in order to reduce recruiting and initiation, abusers and addicts should have subsidized access, preferably conditioned to administration on premises in specialized establishments. This is, by far, the most efficient way to drastically reduce initiation, especially if high barrier of access are placed on casual use of the most damaging substances.

Such a strategy has the added benefit of reaching out to a frequently marginalized population. Once contact is established, it becomes possible to nudge the problem user towards treatment and bring him back to less harmful behavior and patterns of use or even abstinence altogether.

Strategic choices

Based on the acceptance that people will use mind-altering modalities, policies should nudge users towards the least harmful substances and the least harmful modes of administration, according to local conditions and cultures. Chewing coca leaves or drinking coca teas is vastly preferable to snorting or injecting cocaine. Ingesting or smoking opium is vastly preferable to injecting heroin. Marijuana is a relatively harmless substance that should have never been bundled with heroin, cocaine or metamphetamines. Regulation should reflect the differences between substances and modes of administration.

Therefore, regulations should differentiate between hard drugs (heroin, cocaine, metamphetamines) and soft drugs (cannabis/marijuana, coca leaves and preparations, opium in Asia).

Soft drugs should be regulated similarly to alcohol and tobacco, with added restrictions on advertising and packaging and adequate taxation to cover societal cost of abuse, but not to the point of reigniting the illegal marketplace. Taxation should follow international norms to avoid inter-countries smuggling.

Within hard drugs, differentiation should be made between injection, inhalation and other modes of administration. Hard-drugs should generally be dispenses through a prescription model.

Legalization and regulation is only the first step towards reducing the harms linked to substance abuse and addiction. It must be accompanied by efficient prevention and treatment policies.

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.

Weakening the global narco-traffic through global legalization will not solve all crime and violence problems, but it will relieve some pressure and remove a major source of corruption and lawlessness, allowing reallocation of resources to the most harmful criminal activities.

For a more detailed expose of the proposed roadmap to legalization and control, I refer my readers to the closing chapter of “World War-D”.

News from the drug policy reform front

The drug policy reform movement is gathering steam in Latin America and US activists are not even paying attention, even though it is happening at their doorstep!

I have said for a while that drug policy reform, or more precisely, legalization and control of the currently illicit drugs can only happen globally, or at least, it needs to involve enough of the key players of the illegal drug trade: producing countries, transiting countries and consuming countries. I have also said that Latin America is the only part of the world where can emerge a coalition of countries willing to legalize. Well, it looks like the process already started and is gaining momentum.

The latest event, which hasn’t received any press coverage in the US, might be one of the most significant in the long run. The International Forum “Drugs: A Balance to a Century of Their Prohibition” opened on Tuesday February 14th at the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City, inaugurated by no less than Mexican first lady Margarita Zavala, the wife of Mexican President Felipe Calderón. Now I let you digest this for a while. Just imagine such a forum inaugurated by the US first Lady at the Smithsonian in Washington DC.

The forum is attended by various members of the Mexican government, including Secretary of the Interior Alejandro Poiré. The rooster of speakers includes many major tenors of the drug policy reform movement, including former presidents Cesar Gaviria from Colombia and Fernando Henrique Cardoso from Brazil, as well as former UK drug czar Mike Trace. The leaders of the major drug policy reform organizations in the world are there too, from LEAP founder Jack Cole, to Judge Jim Gray, Ethan Nadelmann, or Steve Rolles from UK-based Transform Drug Policy Foundation (TDPF). Speakers come all the way from Australia, Switzerland, Netherland, and include of course many Mexican experts.

The live stream of the forum, as well as recorded sessions, are available on ArgosTV.

Wednesday saw a passionate intervention by former Colombian president Cesar Gaviria, that you can listen on these links: and To hear a former president of one of the countries that has been the most affected by the war on drugs talk with such passion about the hopelessness of prohibitionism was heartening. Even politician can have epiphanies! Why do they wait to retire though, to truly speak up their mind? This, by the way, is the whole idea behind my own Calderon-Santos initiative: trying to convince the two key Latin American leaders to fully come out of the war-on-drugs closet and lead a coalition of the willing to legalize.

Steve Rolles gave a no-nonsense preview of a post-prohibition world, that bears a lot of similarities to my own roadmap at the conclusion of World War-D. If you want to find out how the rest of the world is looking at the war on drugs, I strongly encourage you to browse through the videos of the event.

The drug policy reform movement seems to be reaching a turning point with heads of states ready to jump onboard. This is indeed an important development. Up to now, only retired heads of states were vocal against the war on drugs. The coalition that I was calling for can now emerge. We all can accelerate the movement by expressing our support. The time has come for an international public opinion campaign to get behind those joining the reformist camp.

Some background on recent developments in drug policy reform

I have reported on this blog some of the major developments and will just recap here and refer you to previous posts.

The first clear indication of the emergence of a regional coalition for drug legalization came on December 6th, 2011, during a meeting of Latin Americans and Caribbean leaders in what is known as the Tuxtla System for Dialogue.

Guatemalan president Otto Perez Molina started talking about drug policy reform 4 days after taking office on January 14th, 2012. He went much further on February 11th, announcing that he will propose drug legalization in Central America at the next meeting of regional leaders. The US promptly fired back that it would be a terrible idea, but Perez Molina stuck to his guns and briefly gained to his cause Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes on Monday the 13th. President Funes backpedalled shortly after getting back to Salvador, but it would of course be twisted to allege the effect of US pressure.