Drug Decriminalization: Latin America Leads Way
Latin American frustration with the “war on drugs” is growing. Harsh anti-drug laws have failed to stem apparently rising drug use, and incarceration rates are climbing—up 40% on average in Mexico and South America over the last decade—with more drug users and low-level dealers behind bars. But high-level drug traffickers carry on with impunity.
Increasingly, many countries are leaning toward decriminalization as an alternative approach, hoping that it will be effective both in reducing consumption and dealing with associated health problems. This approach treats drug abuse as a public health and social policy issue rather than as a criminal justice problem. The goal is to encourage addicts to seek help, reduce prison overcrowding and free law enforcement to focus on dismantling drug-trafficking organizations.
Read more here about how Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Colombia, and Ecuador have all taken steps towards various forms of drug decriminalization.
Here's a related Washington Post front page article "U.S. eases stance on medical marijuana."