How Will the OAS Report Affect the Drug-Policy Debate?

The OAS produced an overall balanced and measured report. Proponents of decriminalization and legalization have been rejoicing that the report embraced considering such approaches to dealing with marijuana. In its description of four possible scenarios of the evolution of the drug regime in Latin America, the report subtly but surely condemned the existing stance long-adopted by the United States that emphasizes imprisoning users and suppressing drug cultivation and flows. Endorsing experimentation with marijuana legalization and condemning the current approach were almost inevitable conclusions for the OAS review, given that several former presidents, key NGOs and sitting national governments in the region have been the leading activists for drug policy reform.

Various Latin American countries are likely to increasingly break with the existing law-enforcement- heavy drug-suppression doctrine. They may thus usher in an unraveling of the global counternarcotics regime that has existed for more than 50 years. But the world is nowhere near a new consensus

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Editor’s note: This article was originally published by the Inter-American Dialogue’s daily Latin America Advisor.