At a closed meeting during the April 14-15 summit of President Barack Obama and 29 other regional leaders in Colombia, Obama asked the Organization of American States to look into possible alternatives to the four-decade-old U.S.-backed war on drugs, which many say is failing, says Andres Oppenheimer in the Miami Herald. OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza says the organization plans to release the study by next March. It will be a comprehensive study that will look into the business of drug trafficking, the success or failure of various European countries that have experimented with decriminalization and regulation of the drug trade, as well as ways to improve education, prevention and rehabilitation, he said. Several other regional institutions, including the Pan American Health Organization and the Inter-American Development Bank, will participate.
Oppenheimer predicts that several factors will converge late this year, or in early 2013, to place the drug debate at the top of the U.S.-Latin American diplomatic agenda. Mexico will inaugurate a new president in December, and the winner of the July 1 election will want to create distance from the current war on drugs, which has left more than 50,000 dead over the past five years. California, Oregon, and Washington are scheduled to include pro-marijuana legalization propositions on their ballots in this November's elections. The OAS study may include decriminalization of marijuana among its “menu of options,” encouraging more presidents to join the pro-decriminalization camp.