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The Crossed Destinies of the Marijuana Legalization Debate

While in the United States referendum results in Colorado and Washington –approving recreational use of marijuana - have changed the national conversation about cannabis; in Latin America this decision is viewed with concern. Several Presidents in the region point to this measure as a contradiction in U.S policy that promotes a punitive perspective outside the country but tolerates its use at home. With a growing support from the public opinion, the door for the debate regarding legalization in the United States is partially open. Meanwhile, in Latin America the situation is less clear; many citizens still have major doubts regarding this option, they are not convinced about legalization as a way out to the drug problem.

During the last weeks, the tone of the debate in the United States has changed. Former president Jimmy Carter declared that he is “in favor” of states that are taking steps to legalize the drug and former president Bill Clinton said in the film Breaking the Taboo that the War on Drugs “hasn’t worked”. Additionally, President Barack Obama, in an interview with Barbara Walters, declared that recreational users of marijuana should not be a “top priority” for federal law enforcement officials prosecuting the war on drugs. Neither, president Obama did not explicitly stated his support to the idea of legalization, or he closed the door to explore this option.