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OAS Wants To Go Soft On Drug Users, U.S. May Resist

By Randell Suba , May 20, 2013 01:16 AM EDT
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The Organization of American States or OAS released Friday a comprehensive study suggesting the legalization of marijuana and implementation of new drug policies among other ideas that rethink how authorities should fight the war on illegal drugs.

The OAS report 'The Drug Problem In The Americas'  traverses a very careful line by not recommending a single approach in solving the drug problem but rather encouraging some flexibility.

"Approximately 45% of all the cocaine users in the world live in the Americas, along with approximately half the heroin users and a quarter of all marijuana users. The consumption of cocaine paste, crack, inhalants, amphetamines and the abuse of legal drugs has increased," OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza opened his speech during the presentation of the report.

"This situation must be faced with greater realism and effectiveness if we want to move forward successfully. All of us who hold public responsibilities owe it to the millions of women and men, young and old, mothers and fathers, girls and boys who today feel threatened to find clear answers and effective public policies to confront this scourge," Insulza added.

The study was a result of the mandate of the Heads of State and Government of the Americas to the OAS last year to look into the current policies on the fight against illegal drugs and explore new approaches that will strengthen and make the battle more effective.

The OAS study looked into the consumption and the business of illegal drugs in the Americas. It also took note of the effects of illegal drugs trade on the health and security of the citizens. The report consolidated contributions and opinions from public servants, academic experts, political leaders, and specialists from the member countries.

The report looked into the legalization or decriminalization of marijuana production, use, and sales. However, the study found no significant support from authorities when it comes to the flexibility on dealing with other illegal drugs.

The suggestion of decriminalization is seen by experts as a finger pointing directly at the United States. The country has spent billions of dollars to help fight illegal drugs in its own backyard and in the Americas, and yet the flow of cocaine and marijuana continue and has sparked violence in some areas such as in Central America and in Mexico.

The U.S. government has a strong stand against the legalization of drugs but is also open to the decriminalization of illegal drug use, with victims being allowed to be treated as an important part of its strategy in providing public health. The U.S. has been known to suppress multilateral attempts that aim to discuss alternative steps and approaches to the struggle with illegal drugs and it is expected that the nation will not change its stand.

The study found out that drug abuse is listed as among the top causes of death in the OAS member countries. The retail sale of illegal drugs represents 65 percent of profits in the drug economy while producers or farmers rake in one percent.

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