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El Espectador, Colombia

From the What to the How


By Andrés Hoyos

Translated By Karen Posada

27 November 2012

Edited by Lau­rence Bouvard


Colombia - El Espectador - Original Article (Spanish)

Never mind if later on American federal law tries to stop these popular decisions: The damage to the prohibitionist doctrine has been done. It does not look good to continue jailing peaceful citizens when a growing percentage, and soon to be a majority, of the population state that those people are being imprisoned for something that should be legal. According to this, the war on drugs is going to end some day in successive controlled legalization of all psychoactive drugs. People of legal age will be able to buy them in supervised places, their sale will generate substantial taxes, there will be restrictions on promotion and public campaigns to discourage use. The minority that abuses them will become a manageable problem of public health.

It is harder to know how this will come to be and the obvious consequence of when. Much of this contingency depends on the strategies and tactics that we, the enemies of the ban, use to speed up the process and make public opinion aware of the debacle and wastefulness in which fanatics involve us. I believe the best idea is international unilateralism, of which Mr. Pepe Mujica is the clearest example: The law that decriminalizes marijuana has not yet been approved in Uruguay, a country of 3.3 million people, and already half the world is talking about its politics.

However, just as the regions and countries affected have the right to proceed unilaterally in the matter of psychoactive drugs without being stigmatized, it is very important that the experiences and difficulties are shared as widely as possible. A mistake that we the enemies of the ban have made is confining the internationalization of the debate to the academic field, letting the political aspect of the matter continue to be mainly local. It would be ideal to constantly mix academics, intellectuals, activists and politicians that push, each in their own way, alternatives to the war on drugs.

The anti-prohibition initiative should preferably not be left up to active politicians, who are in power today and gone tomorrow, but would be better given to universities, which do not seem to change opinion or government with the same frequency as the states. That way, a large group of public and private universities could hopefully agree to organize a major annual event centered on the alternatives – ALL the alternatives – to prohibition and the war on drugs. Not only will academics that deal with the subject be invited, but also government officials and presidents, active or not, from everywhere in the world that have something significant to contribute, as well as the media. The meetings will need to be held in a country like Colombia, tormented by prohibition and the drug trafficking derived from it, but could rotate to other countries with similar problems, such as Mexico. It would not be suitable to make it a closed club. Any university, NGO or foundation that would want to be part of these events should always be welcomed.

Yes, although The Hague’s hurricane continues to pass through Colombia, do not forget even more important issues such as the ill-fated ban on drugs.



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