Obama: Drug 'Legalization Is Not the Answer'

Summit leaders increasingly want to end war on drugs

By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 15, 2012 7:45 AM CDT

(Newser) – With an election year well under way, President Obama went to the Summit of the Americas in Colombia determined to talk about trade deals and the economy. Unfortunately, many of the other leaders wanted to talk about the failed war on drugs and legalization, reports the LA Times. "In spite of all the efforts, the illicit drug business is still buoyant, drug addiction in all countries is a serious public health issue, and drug trafficking is still the main provider of funding for violence and terrorism," said Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.

"Legalization is not the answer," said Obama, citing "the capacity of a large-scale drug trade to dominate certain countries" as "more corrupting than the status quo." Obama added he was open to a discussion of whether the drug war is "doing more harm than good in certain places." The president is attempting to underscore the positives in US-Latin American relations, but the drug issue and the Secret Service prostitution scandal are instead grabbing headlines. One thing in Obama's favor, though, is the absence of the region's most controversial leaders—Venezuela's Hugo Chavez canceled to get radiation treatment for his cancer in Cuba and Cuba's Raul Castro wasn't invited at all.

US President Barack Obama attends the opening ceremony of the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia yesterday.
US President Barack Obama attends the opening ceremony of the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia yesterday.   (Getty Images)
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