Colombia and Mexico will work together to reshape drug policies

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The presidents of Colombia and Mexico have announced that they will bring together other Latin American leaders for an international conference aimed at “redefining and rethinking drug policy” in light of the “failure” of prohibition.

As lawmakers in both countries work to advance cannabis legalization, Colombian President Gustavo Petro and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said in a joint statement Friday that they recently met to discuss the “geopolitical, commercial, cultural and development cooperation” within the framework of their bilateral relations.

Part of that effort will be to work with the broader international community to chart a new course on the drug policy front, a topic that Mr. Petro has frequently addressed since taking office at the start of the year. year.

“Recognizing the failure of the fight against drugs and the vulnerability of our peoples to this problem, Mexico and Colombia will convene an international conference of Latin American leaders with the aim of redefining and rethinking drug policy. the two countries announced in a joint statement following Petro’s visit to Mexico last week.

This is one of more than a dozen “bilateral agenda” priorities set by the presidents.

Although the statement is sketchy, the reference to the “failure” of the war on drugs – as well as past comments by the two presidents on the need for reform – indicates that international discussions will largely focus on the abandonment of the drug criminalization model.

Mr. Petro said international cooperation on how to end the war on drugs is important, “given the levels of violence that the current policy has unleashed, particularly in the continental United States. »

“We are killing each other,” the Colombian president said in a statement ahead of his meetings with Lopez Obrador. “And it’s the product of prohibition.”

Since his election to the presidency, Mr. Petro has been particularly outspoken on the issue. For example, he delivered a speech at a United Nations (UN) meeting in September, in which he urged member nations to fundamentally change their approach to drug policy and end prohibition.

He also recently spoke about the prospects of legalizing cannabis in Colombia as a way to reduce the influence of the illicit market. And he indicated that this change in policy should be followed by the release of those currently imprisoned for cannabis.

To that end, Colombian senators approved in committee last week a cannabis legalization bill, after it advanced through the country’s House of Representatives.

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