Colombia should legalize and regulate marijuana now and not wait for the United States, said former president Cesar Gaviria Monday.
In light of the “persecution” of farmers and consumers, Gaviria told local media that Colombia should consider legalizing “soft drugs.”
“It can not be,” said Gaviria — reiterating comments made by Colombia’s Director of National Police — that Colombia is engaged in a war on drugs while the United States is legalizing marijuana. In November, two states in the U.S. [Colorado and Washington] legalized the recreational use of marijuana, however, discrepancies between federal policy and state laws remain unresolved and President Barack Obama has resisted calls to support legalization.
“If we want America to change its policy, we must begin the change ourselves,” Colombia’s former president told RCN Radio.
Gavira, who is part of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, an NGO that promotes evidence-based drug policy, said that although “regulatory systems work better,” it is still “too early to talk about the legalization of cocaine” due to the problems of legalizing and regulating the current systems of production.
The current president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, has repeatedly called for a global debate on the war on drugs. Santos has said that he would not oppose legalization, but that it must be a global move, not one that Colombia can take on its own.