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U.S., Mexican governments reject report calling for drug legalization

June 3, 2011 |  2:13 pm

Drug war peace march zapatistas efe

The governments of the United States and Mexico promptly rejected this week the conclusions of a high-profile international report calling for the "legal regulation" of some drugs.

In separate statements, the governments signaled that they would not back away from current strategies in the war on drugs, which in Mexico has resulted in more than 38,000 deaths in 4 1/2 years and is backed by more than $1 billion in U.S. aid under the Merida Initiative.

As The Times reported Thursday from Mexico City and Washington, the Global Commission on Drug Policy is urging governments to decriminalize drug consumption and experiment with legalization and regulation of some narcotics, especially marijuana. The report calls the 4-decade-old war on drugs a failure.

"We can no longer ignore the extent to which drug-related violence, crime and corruption in Latin America are the results of failed drug war policies," former Colombian President Cesar Gaviria said in a prepared statement tied to the report's release. "Now is the time to break the taboo on discussion of all drug policy options, including alternatives to drug prohibition."

Here's the commission's website, where visitors can download the full report in English or Spanish. The commission includes a former president of Brazil, a former president of Mexico, former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and several business leaders.

On Thursday, as the drug-policy report was being released in New York, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy issued a statement arguing against its recommendations.

"The Obama administration's efforts to reduce drug use are not born out of a culture war or drug war mentality, but out of the recognition that drug use strains our economy, health, and public safety," the statement said.

In Mexico, President Felipe Calderon's government has consistently stated that it does not support the legalization of drugs but remains open to debate. The position was reaffirmed this week by the president's top national-security spokesman, Alejandro Piore (link in Spanish).

Piore said the Mexican government "categorically rejects the impression that in Mexico, by definition, a stronger application of the law on the part of the authorities shall result in an increase in violence on the part of the narco-traffickers."

Legalization, his statement also said, "does not do away with organized crime, nor with its rivalries and violence."

Read the full L.A. Times story on the commission's report here.

-- Daniel Hernandez in Mexico City

Photo: Masked Zapatistas, holding signs that read "No More Blood," march in San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico, on May 8. Credit: EFE

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