The United States government has said it is “willing to listen” to a “legitimate” debate on the legalization of drugs at the upcoming Summit of the Americas, reported Colombian media Thursday.
Coordinator for the Summit of the Americas for the U.S. State Department John Feeley said, “We are ready to have a good dialogue between all countries to hear their views.”
But he admitted, “For us, frankly, legalization is not the solution,” during a speech given at the Center for Analysis for Inter-American Dialogue in Washington.
The U.S. position comes a month before the summit is due to take place in Colombia’s Caribbean coastal city of Cartagena and at a time when the legalization and decriminalization of drugs are finding increasing support in Latin America.
While Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has repeatedly backed a debate on the subject, Guatemalan President Otto Perez has firmly advocated decriminalization and will meet other Central American leaders later this month to discuss the subject prior to the Cartagena summit.
Mexico already decriminalized personal drug possession in 2009, with Colombia set to reenact a similar law, which Santos’ predecessor Alvaro Uribe had scrapped. Santos has previously backed Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s calls for drug legalization.