Am I seeing this as a decline in the human intelligence and dispensation of intellect, or is this some kind of a breakthrough on humanity's really "free living" style?



Mexico, Argentina move toward decriminalisation

CARACAS - Argentina and Mexico have taken significant steps towards decriminalising drugs amid a growing Latin American backlash against the United States-sponsored "war on drugs".

Argentina's Supreme Court has ruled it unconstitutional to punish people for using marijuana for personal consumption, an eagerly-awaited judgment that gave the government the green light to push for further liberalisation.

It followed Mexico's decision to stop prosecuting people for possession of relatively small quantities of marijuana, cocaine, heroin and other drugs. Instead, they will be referred to clinics and treated as patients, not criminals.

Brazil and Ecuador are also considering partial decriminalisation as part of a regional swing away from a decades-old policy of crackdowns still favoured by Washington.

"The tide is clearly turning. The 'war on drugs' strategy has failed," Mr Fernando Henrique Cardoso, a former Brazilian President, told The Guardian. Earlier this year, he and two former Presidents of Colombia and Mexico published a landmark report calling for a new departure.

Reform campaigners have long argued that criminalisation enriched drug cartels, fuelled savage turf wars, corrupted state institutions and filled prisons with addicts who presented no real threat to society.

The US used its considerable influence to keep Latin America and the United Nations wedded to hardline policies which kept the focus on interdictions and jail sentences for consumers as well as dealers.

The economic and social cost has emboldened some Latin American states to try new approaches.

Argentina's Supreme Court, presented with a case about youth arrested with a few joints, ruled last week that such behaviour did not violate the Constitution. "Each adult is free to make lifestyle decisions without the intervention of the state," it said.
The previous week, the government of Mexico, which has endured horrific drug-related violence, made it no longer an offence to possess 0.5g of cocaine, 5g of marijuana, 50mg of heroin and 40mg of methamphetamine.

Three years ago, Mexico backtracked on similar legislation after the initiative triggered howls of outrage in the US.

Now, however, the authorities quietly say they need to free up resources and jail space for a military-led war on the drug cartels, even while publicly justifying that offensive to the Mexican public with the slogan "to stop the drugs reaching your children".

Washington did not protest against the announcement. "I predict that when the US sees its nightmare has not come true and that there is no narco-tourist boom it will come under more pressure to legalise or decriminalise," said Mr Walter McKay, of the Mexico City-based Institute for Security and Democracy.

Argentina and Mexico's moves may encourage other governments to follow suit. A new law has been mooted in Ecuador, where President Rafael Correa last year pardoned 1,500 "mules" who had been sentenced to jail.

Brazil's Supreme Court is in favour of decriminalising possession of small quantities of drugs, said former judge Maria Lucia Karam, who has joined the advocacy group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

She said repression remained a cornerstone of drug policy. "The 'war on drugs' mentality is still the dominant policy approach in Latin America. The only way to reduce violence ... is to legalise the production, supply and consumption of all drugs." THE GUARDIAN

From TODAY, World – Wednesday, 02-Sep-2009

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