South American Summit: Obama says "No" to Legalizing Drugs
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and others want to talk about what they call the failed war on drugs, as President Obama tries to focus on economic ties.
CARTAGENA, Colombia April 14, 2012 — President Obama sought Saturday to emphasize the robust economic relationship between the United States and Latin America, and he flatly ruled out legalizing drugs as a way to combat the illegal trafficking that has ravaged the region.
Facing calls at a regional summit to consider decriminalization, Obama said he is open to a debate about drug policy, but he believes that legalization could lead to greater problems in countries hardest hit by drug-fueled violence.
“Legalization is not the answer,” Obama told other hemispheric leaders at the two-day Summit of the Americas.
“The capacity of a large-scale drug trade to dominate certain countries if they were allowed to operate legally without any constraint could be just as corrupting, if not more corrupting, than the status quo,” he said.
Obama told Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, host of the summit, that he is willing to discuss whether American drug laws are “doing more harm than good in certain places.”