Latin America looks to Europe for drug fighting models

Latin American countries such as Brazil and Guatemala are turning to Europe for lessons on fighting narcotics abuse. Until recently, most Latin American countries had zero-tolerance rules on drugs inspired by the United States.

Various South American countries are now exploring more relaxed laws for personal use of small amounts of drugs, following examples such as Spain and Portugal - countries that have shifted to prevention rather than locking up offenders. Latin America is the top world producer of cocaine and marijuana, feeding the huge demand in the United States and Europe. Domestic drug use has risen and drug gang violence has caused carnage for decades from the Mexican-US border to the slums of Brazil.

Recently, Uruguay's Congress moved a step closer to legalizing cannabis. On the same day a leftist lawmaker in Mexico presented a bill to legalise production, sale and use of marijuana. While the Mexican bill is unlikely to pass, it reflects growing debate over how to fight drug use in a country where 60,000 people have died since 2006 in turf battles between drug traffickers and clashes between cartels and security forces.

(via Reuters)