Press Release  | 02/14/2011

Colombian President Would Consider Legalizing Drugs to Reduce Violence and Crime in His Country

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Santos Joins Former Presidents of Brazil, Colombia and Mexico Who Have Called for Debate on Legalizing Drugs

Yesterday, Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos announced his willingness to consider legalizing drugs. Santos said considering drug legalization "…is an alternative that we can discuss. I am not opposed to any formula that is effective."

The conservative Colombian president's pronouncement comes on the heels of several other prominent Latin American leaders – including former presidents Fernando Henrique Cardosa of Brazil, Ceasar Gaviria of Colombia, and former Mexican presidents Ernesto Zedillo and Vicente Fox – who have expressed willingness to consider legalizing drugs as a way to address drug-related violence.

In the US, President Barack Obama recently said he considered legalization to be a "legitimate topic for debate."

Ethan Nadelmann, executive director for the Drug Policy Alliance, the nation's leading organization promoting alternatives to the war on drugs, released the following statement about President Santos's announcement:

"President Santos's cautious but clear support for seriously debating the option of legalization as a solution to prohibition-related violence and crime sends an important message to other presidents and prime ministers. Taken together with President Obama's recent acknowledgement that legalization is a legitimate topic for debate, it suggests that the debate is opening up globally in ways that are both unprecedented and essential to meaningful drug policy reform."

Tony Newman at 646-335-5384 or Tommy McDonald at 510-229-5215

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