South America Looks to Colorado, Washington in Considering the Future Decriminalization and Legalization of Marijuana

iStock_000009135835_ExtraSmall.jpgWith the recent legalization of recreational marijuana in the states of Colorado and Washington, officials in those states are only too aware that every measure they take, as well of the actions of the states’ marijuana-using citizens, are being closely watched by the rest of the country. But, with the release of a recent report by the Organization of American States (OAS), it is now apparent that some foreign governments are also paying close attention to how marijuana regulation plays out in the Unites States.

The report, which was produced at a recent OAS meeting and delivered to Columbian president Juan Manuel Santos, refers to marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington as a possible touchstone for those South American countries that are considering similar legislation and predicts that more western countries would legalize marijuana over the next decade. Despite the fact that Columbia has received billions of dollars in U.S. aid meant to fund drug eradication, President Santos has publicly called for a different approach to drug policies, stating that he is open to some form of marijuana legalization. Santos is not alone, in the last few years presidents Otto Perez Molina of Guatemala and Laura Chinchilla of Costa Rica have also spoken out about marijuana policy reform. With ever-spreading drug cartel violence leading a growing number of South American leaders to express interest in pursuing alternative drug policies, the taboo that has long prevented open debate about drugs has been broken. Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico and Uruguay have already passed laws decriminalizing drug possession for personal consumption.

Although the OAS report only outlines marijuana decriminalization and eventual legalization like in Colorado as one possible “future scenario”, advocates of drug policy reform praise it as a sign of increasing openness to an alternative to the U.S.-led “war on drugs”. Reformers find that fact that it is no longer taboo for politicians and public leaders to discuss new drug policies as very encouraging in light of past stigmatization of marijuana. “It’s the first report, as far as I know, by any multilateral organization anywhere, that actually includes the options of decriminalization and legalization on an equal footing with the status quo policies,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance.

The international focus on Colorado and Washington’s fledgling marijuana industry only highlights the importance of its successful regulation and integration over the next few years, with many waiting to see how the U.S. government will ultimately react to the trade, which remains illegal under federal law. While California may have led the led the charge on marijuana regulation in the U.S., the next chapter in marijuana’s story is being written in Colorado and Washington State.

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Gilbert Garcia has been Passionately Pursuing Justice for over 30 years and founded The Gilbert G. Garcia Law Firm in 2008. The Gilbert G. Garcia Law Firm is a boutique law firm, specializing in Criminal Defense. Gilbert represents adults and juveniles accused of a crime and who have with a felony, misdemeanor or record cleaning case. Conveniently located on the courthouse square to serve Montgomery and Walker Counties. Gilbert became Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 1989. The Gilbert G. Garcia Law Firm is located at 220 N. Thompson St., Suite 202, Conroe, TX 77301.  www.ggglawfirm.com.

Drug Related Charges may include: Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Controlled Substance, Possession of Dangerous Drug, Manufacturing a Dangerous Drug/Controlled Substance, Delivery or Intent to Deliver Marijuana/Dangerous Drug/Controlled Substance, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and many other drug related charges.