President Barack Obama replied Saturday to calls from Latin America to consider legalizing drugs, saying it is legitimate to debate the matter, but that he remains opposed.
Mr. Obama, attending the Summit of the Americas, a gathering of hemispheric heads of state, was careful not to dismiss the idea as out of hand and made a point of reiterating a pledge to treat the U.S.’s hemispheric neighbors as equal partners.
“It is entirely legitimate to have a conversation about whether the laws in place are ones that are doing more harm than good in certain places,” he said during a morning panel discussion at a CEO summit held in conjunction with the larger gathering.
But he quickly added that he feels “legalization is not the answer,” arguing that a legal drug trade could be as corrupting in its influence as illegal drug operations. “Nevertheless, I’m a big believer of looking at the evidence, having a big debate,” Mr. Obama added.
If President Obama looked at the evidence from Portugal on the effects of decriminalization, he would be in support of legalization. Obama should definitely engage in a debate on drug policy, and hear the facts on both sides.
Glenn Greenwald at the Cato Institute’s “Ending the Global War on Drugs” Conference