A Turning Point in the Drug War

This past weekend, President Obama joined more than thirty other heads of state from throughout the Americas in Colombia for the Summit of the Americas. For the first time ever, a major focus of the summit was the need for alternative strategies to the failed war on drugs. After decades of being brutalized by the U.S. government’s failed prohibitionist drug policies, Latin American leaders are saying “enough is enough.”

Two major developments came out of the meeting. President Obama reiterated his position that exploring drug war alternatives is a legitimate topic for debate, and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos proposed the establishment of a taskforce to ensure that future drug policy deliberations consider all options, not just variations on failed drug war strategies.

I have been meeting with and advising top officials and other interested parties in Latin America in recent months. You’ll be delighted to know that many of them are inspired by marijuana law reform efforts here in the United States, which undercut the crude prohibitionist posture of our federal government. That clearly has helped embolden them in their increasingly forceful demands that U.S. policymakers take their heads out of the sand.

What’s happening right now — both with the burgeoning drug policy debate in the Americas and with the accelerating movement to end marijuana prohibition in the United States — is unprecedented. Let’s keep up the momentum!


Ethan Nadelmann
Executive Director
Drug Policy Alliance

Legalization Debate Takes Off in Latin America!

Over the past few years, we’ve seen a growing number of former presidents denounce the drug war and call for breaking the taboo on discussing alternatives to failed prohibitionist policies. But now, for the first time, we’re hearing the same calls from current presidents. DPA’s work with the Global Commission on Drug Policy undoubtedly influenced the growing number of courageous leaders in Latin America and elsewhere who are now speaking out. DPA Executive Director Ethan Nadelmann was a featured guest on Democracy Now!, the PBS NewsHour and NPR’s Morning Edition, where he shared his analysis of the recent developments in Latin America and what they mean for drug policy reform in the U.S.

Presidents Endorse Drug War Alternatives

Domestically and internationally, the momentum to end the war on drugs is historic! Around the world, people are waking up to the devastating reality of the consequences of the war on drugs. The current presidents of Colombia and Guatemala and others are fed up with pursuing policies that are so obviously ineffective and counter-productive. In their countries, they have witnessed the violence and suffering that has occurred as a by-product of prohibition. They have seen that the war on drugs does more harm than good and they are at last willing to speak out. Check out this article in the Washington Post about these presidents breaking new ground by calling for a drug war debate. NPR’s All Things Considered also featured thoughtful coverage that includes an interview with DPA Executive Director Ethan Nadelmann.

Make Your Voice Heard: Urge Obama to End the Drug War

While momentum grows around the world to end the war on drugs, President Obama voiced support for a drug war debate. For the first time, we have an opportunity to put an end to the disastrous drug policies that have wasted well over a trillion dollars, ruined millions of lives, and placed politics before health and public safety. We need to keep the pressure on! Take action and urge Obama to end the war on drugs today.