Press Release  | 03/02/2011

Mexican President Felipe Calderon Arrives in Washington to Meet With President Obama

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They've Both Said Legalization is a Legitimate Subject to Discuss: Will They?

Statement from DPA's Ethan Nadelmann: Presidents Need to Remove Political and Intellectual Blinders That Allow Failed Prohibitionist Policies to Persist

Mexico President Felipe Calderon arrives in Washington D.C. and Mexico's violent war on drugs will be front and center of his meetings with House Speaker Republican John Boehner today and with President Obama on Thursday.

Among the topics to be discussed during President Calderon's visit will be the 1.4 billion dollar anti-drug aid plan that the United States gives to Mexico, the role of U.S. guns flowing to Mexico and best ways to curb United States drug consumption. Advocates for drug policy reform say what is really needed is for the presidents to not be afraid to speak opening and honestly about the true causes and solutions to the violence.

"Presidents Obama and Calderon have each said in recent months that drug legalization is a legitimate topic of debate, albeit with the caveat that they do not support the idea, said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "Probably the most important thing they could accomplish in their meeting is to agree to remove the political and intellectual blinders that have allowed failed prohibitionist policies to persist notwithstanding their disastrous consequences."

In recent months there have been a string of prominent voices calling for a serious debate on legalization. Last month, the conservative president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, announced his willingness to consider the legalization of drugs. Santos' statement came on the heels of several other prominent Latin American leaders – including former presidents Fernando Henrique Cardosa of Brazil, Cesar Gaviria of Colombia, and former Mexican presidents Ernesto Zedillo and Vicente Fox –each insisting that all drug policy options be on the table, including legalization.

"The United States has been providing all sorts of costly assistance to help Mexico fight the war on drugs, said Nadelmann. "But, what's most needed doesn't cost a penny-- the courage to discuss alternatives to failed prohibitionist policies."

Tony Newman at 646-335-5384 or Ethan Nadelmann at 646-335-2240

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