Colombian Congress president Armando Benedetti says he is in favor of legalizing drugs, but adds Colombia should not take the lead in this because it would give the country a bad image.
“The problem is not whether or not to legalize the consumption and distribution of drugs, but the way the problem has been handled. The United States, Mexico, Argentina, Portugal, Spain and Germany have changed the way to counter the consumption and we’re still in the age of the caveman while we have suffered and paid for this war more than anyone,” Benedetti told newspaper El Espectador.
“The drug problem is global. We have paid the highest costs. The highest investments have been made and they were for nothing. We continue to be an important producing and distributing country in the world, occupy the third place in Latin America with consumption, and it seems we have taken the wrong corrective measures to control consumption,” the coalition politician said.
Benedetti has long supported moves to legalize drugs.
“The fumigations didn’t produce results and neither did Plan Colombia. I would be in favor of legalization. But we cannot say that. We would be the pariahs of the world,” the senator told Colombia Reports a year ago.
Instead, Benedetti favors multilateral initiatives to legalize drugs, because “the problem is global and many countries are affected by the scourge of drugs,” he told El Espectador.
The Congress president’s position conflicts with that of President Juan Manuel Santos, who has called for a discussion on a “redesign” of the war on drugs if California decides to legalize marijuana in a referendum in November. According to U.S. deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg, a legalization of pot in his country’s richest state will not affect the U.S. federal government’s policy on drugs.
However in 1998 Santos, in his capacity as head of the Good Government Foundation, co-signed an open letter addressed to Kofi Annan, then-U.N. secretary general, calling for “a frank and honest evaluation of global drug control efforts,” as “we believe that the global war on drugs is now causing more harm than drug abuse itself.”