The Summit of the Americas had its first day and headlines are still stressing the drug war as the hot issue. But Obama really wants to talk economy and free trade stuff. Still, several of the 30-plus leaders of countries represented at the meeting become deliciously outspoken in their desire to either end, dial down, or just talk about changing drug war policy throughout the Americas in the last few months and years. So what's up with that, Northern-Americans?
Well, again, the U.S. does want to talk about the issue, paraphrases canada.com, "if only to "demystify" decriminalization as an option and show that such a move would backfire and make matters worse." It's not certain whether this refers to Vice President Joe Biden's bold March statement that "there is no possibility the Obama/Biden administration will change its policy on legalization" which is not exactly rich in enlightening detail about how exactly things would be made worse by reining in prohibition.
But Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper wants to talk about how much he doesn't want to legalize, too. And he recently had his communications director offer up this decisively pro-prohibition quote:
"The prime minister would be a strong voice in that debate," said Andrew MacDougall. "The government's strategy is, in fact, completely in the opposite direction.
"A key priority for us is to fight illicit drugs, particularly the transnational organizations that are behind the drug smuggling. Here at home, we have put in place tough new laws to crack down on these groups, to put drug dealers behind bars where they belong."
Canada, which once looked as if it were going to charge ahead in the liberalization of drug policies, has been taking too many pages out of the U.S. guidebook. Though some former Canadian health officials have pleaded for drug policy sanity, the country seems headed in a mandatory minimums for drug crimes (which are included in Canada's 2012 C-10 crime bills) sort of a direction. Canada did just allow medical marijuana patients to consume their medicine in more varied fashion, though, so that's a minor hurrah step. But when two-thirds of North America has no interest in legalization, that doesn't bode well for the summit as a success story.
It's just a pity that while Latin America moves forward on the drug war problem, Canada moves backwards, and the U.S. doesn't move at all (at least not federally, where it ultimately matters).
Reason on Canadian drug laws