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A few well-written words can convey a wealth of information, particularly when there is no lag time between when they are written and when they are read. The IPS blog gives you an opportunity to hear directly from IPS scholars and staff on ideas large and small and for us to hear back from you.

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Entries tagged "drug policy"

What Drives U.S. Policy in Central America?

June 12, 2012 ·

Sanho Tree Al Jazeera The US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has launched an investigation into a raid on a remote Honduran village that killed four people including two pregnant women. Four others were also injured in the operation in May.

In the waking hours of May 11, a group of indigenous villagers travelling by canoe in the Mosquita region came under helicopter fire. Four of them including two pregnant women and a child died. US officials said the killings followed a sighting of men unloading cocaine onto a truck nearby. The US State Department-owned helicopters were sent to investigate.

Read more, and watch the entire video, on Al Jazeera.

Is Now the Time for Countries to Legalize Street Drugs?

February 29, 2012 ·

A minimally processed agricultural commodity that receives a huge price support from government. Photo by Tomas Aquino.Along with Sanho, policy analysts at the Brookings Institution and the Heritage Foundation were asked to participate. Here's the question, along with Sanho's response:

Question: In recent months, three sitting Latin American presidents have suggested that it is time to consider a debate about legalizing drugs, with Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina most recently promising to raise the issue with other Central American leaders in a coming meeting. Would legalizing drugs have a significant effect on the crippling violence that has wracked Mexico and Central America in recent years, as some analysts suggest, or would the gangs and cartels merely focus on other illegal activities? Is there likely to be a more substantive policy discussion of drug legalization in the coming years? How would the United States react to such a debate?

SANHO TREE: Legalizing drugs would have a significant impact on criminal profits in the long run.While many traffickers have recently diversified their revenue streams, drugs have been their preferred source of income because it's simple and efficient. Otherwise, they would have switched to more profitable crimes long ago. In recent years, extreme prohibition-related violence has destroyed the social contract and emboldened other types of criminals. It's important to remember that this carnage has been over the right to traffic what are essentially minimally processed agricultural commodities that are easy to produce and should cost pennies per dose. Instead, the risks of the drug war have given these criminals an indirect 'price support' or 'crop subsidy' because of prohibition economics. We will never reduce the supply of drugs by making them astronomically more valuable.

As the violence caused by drug prohibition threatens governments throughout the region, the demand for ending prohibition will intensify. Previously, it had been only retired politicians and officials who spoke openly of their views. Now, sitting heads of state are joining the discussion.U.S. officials will be the last to join because they see this as a 'third rail' issue. As the prime minister of Luxembourg said of another issue, 'We all know what to do, but we don't know how to get re-elected once we have done it.' For the first time, however, U.S. opinion for legalizing marijuana has surpassed 50 percent. Such culture war issues are deeply rooted in generational politics, but new generations are fast taking over."

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