With Washington, and Colorado both legalizing Cannabis for recreational use through proposition 19 this past Tuesday, I believe drug policy is about to become a much bigger issue than it has been in the past. While medical marijuana has been in political discussion for several years, recreational use is a much more recent issue. Proposition 19 now allows people to sell, and cultivate small amounts of marijuana for personal use, while still prohibiting any large scale distribution, or production of the drug. What is really interesting about this policy to me is the implications it has for our Latin American neighbors. Due to the illegal drug trade in Latin America, and its connections in the United States, American policy makers have been putting pressure on Latin American governments to tighten their drug policies for many years. Now, with the passing of prop 19, we are receiving much criticism from our neighbors to the south in fear that these new policies will undo much of the progress that has been made.
The think tank I looked at to gain a better understanding of this issue was the Institute for Policy Studies. This institute organizes numerous projects and events around better understanding and reforming government policies, and has comprehensively covered drug policy in the U.S. It offers many critiques on drug policy that are generally focused around how effective it has been, and what political, and social implications various policies will have. What I learned from this think tank was that the recent change to cannabis policy will have numerous negative social implications for Latin America, and is currently being met with much criticism by activists who have been fighting to reduce drug trafficking, and drug related violence in Mexico, and the southwestern United States. Furthermore, many are saying the U.S. is being hypocritical by passing this proposition after launching a “war on drugs” the symbolism of which may be more harmful than the proposition itself.