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Europe: Colombian Vice-President Wants Debate on Cocaine Legalization

Appearing in London at an event aimed at undermining cocaine consumption in Great Britain, Colombian Vice-President Francisco Santos Calderón appeared to suggest that discussions about cocaine policy should include the possibility of legalization. But there is no political will to do so, he complained.
Francisco Santos
Colombia is the world's leading cocaine producer and exporter. Cocaine has been a leading revenue source for both rightist paramilitaries and leftist guerrillas engaged in a bloody, decades-long civil war. Now, with consumption rising in Europe in general and Great Britain in particular, the British government this week announced a new public relations program to dampen demand. Santos was in London for an event kicking off that push.

"In the case of Colombia and this country, the discussion of legalization is something that does not have the political will or the possibility of becoming a reality in the near future," Santos said in remarks reported by "So in Colombia, where a lot of illegal groups fund themselves through this kind of operation, we have no other option in terms of combating it. The debate is open but we wish it had a louder sense in terms of how we can reduce consumption and production."

It's not the first time Santos has criticized current drug policies. In September of last year, Santos noted the failure of aerial eradication programs targeting coca (the plant from which cocaine is derived), and called for a change in emphasis in anti-drug efforts.

According to the British Home Office, whose head, Home Secretary Vernon Coaker also attended the event, cocaine is the only drug in Britain to see an increase in use over 1998. It is a Class A drug under Britain's Misuse of Drugs Act, with possession punishable by up to seven years and sales punishable by up to life in prison.

While the British government is now engaged in a public relations campaign to reduce cocaine use, it appears deaf to the Colombian vice-president's suggestion that legalization be put on the table. It's all about law enforcement, said Home Secretary Coaker.

The new campaign is "just one part of enforcement measures we use," Coaker said. "The really important thing about drugs policy, whether it is in respect of cannabis or cocaine, is that we have a tough law enforcement approach in respect of that, of course you do, but alongside that people know we also have to have education programs and treatment programs so when we have got people in the system we try to help them and work with them," he added.

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Colombian cocaine

This is damned interesting. Colombia being so safely tucked away in the US's pocket, even this sort of thing deserves attention especially in light of the recent events concerning Colombia's incursions into Ecuador. The sad truth is, however, the inertia that the illicit drug wars represent in terms of profitability for the drug warriors is so massive that any rational voice ends up shovelling shit against the tide. However, as your publication frequently points out, and I wholehertedly agree, that the stupid policies in place will reap the whirlwing (to borrow a biblical reference) if rational people give up in the face of such momentum that the drug wars represent.

can you see Cheney

suggesting legal coke?

This guys got cahunas man; especially with everybody & their brother/sister making a fortune on blow in Colombia.

I guess they don't see the VP as a threat or he'd 'sleep with the fishes'

i saw this guy on bbc world news. he's no reformer

this guy's not a reformer, in fact he's a pretty intense drug warrior. he's not really saying anything against the drug war; at least not at the moment. the only positive thing he said (on the interview i saw) was admitting that drug legalization is a debate we should be having.

he's a pretty intense drug warrior who apparently has had to admit to himself that legalization could have something positive, but he doesn't want to admit it openly. he was in england campaigning against the use of coke and telling people that "if you use coke, it doesn't just kill you, it kills the environment and it kills people in colombia". He didn't mention legalization until the woman interviewing him asked him about it, and then all he said sounded more like he was avoiding sounding pro-drug. mostly what he said was "it's a hypothetical debate at the moment; the debate hasn't started". and she asked "do you think this is a debate that the world should be having?", and he said "i think it's a debate. it's a debate we should be having seriously" [so far so good, but then he said], "but we have to remember that if we make the decision to legalize drugs it could have maybe impossible reversal" [of negative consequences (or something like that, he said)] "if we get the levels of use of other drugs to the levels of alcohol and tobacco, you don't know what consequences that could have on society".

(none of these are exact quotes, this is from memory).

my highest possible hope about this guy is that maybe, just maybe, he's a little bit converted to legalization but is still in the closet about it. he's probably not even that, though.

wow thanks for the eye opener

wow u on top o this.

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