US: Can Washington Still Dictate Drug Policy in the Americas? / Coletta A. Youngers and Adam Schaffer

Washington has succeeded in creating an entrenched drug-war bureaucracy across Latin America. But the momentum in favor of reform is building in unexpected places.

For decades, the U.S. government has imposed its repressive drug-control policies across Latin America and the Caribbean, using diplomatic, political, and economic pressure as needed. Long-simmering resentment to this approach, combined with waning U.S. political influence, has led to a dramatic turning of the tide: Latin American countries are now driving an unprecedented international drug policy debate.

A disconnect between U.S. drug policies at home and abroad has also played a role in motivating the opposition to U.S.-dictated drug policies. While this disconnect is most visible in state-led initiatives to create legal, regulated cannabis markets (now approved in four states and the District of Columbia), the Obama administration has also undertaken two significant domestic initiatives: It has placed greater priority on a public health approach, and has dramatically expanded access to drug treatment through the Affordable Care Act. SEE MORE…

 

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