The President used his platform at the World Economic Forum to announce the proposals for drug policy reform presented to him by Beckley Foundation director Amanda Feilding last week – including drug regulation and the creation of a legal poppy crop. He also announced the plans we have been working on together to hold a drug policy summit later this year.
President Pérez Molina became the first Guatemalan leader to address the World Economic Forum when he spoke at a press conference and a drug policy debate in Davos this week. The President was invited to Davos to debate whether the current policy of ‘war on drugs’ is working.
In the debate it was pointed out that over 25 years, the US has not reduced consumption, but has put millions of people in prison. Over that time, the price for heroin and cocaine has fallen 75%. Furthermore, Latin American countries have been forced to fight an impossible war against organized crime, leading to violence, death, and corruption.
Among the planned reforms announced by the President is the conversion of the currently illegal poppy crop into a legal crop for the production of opioid medicines such as morphine. Like many developing countries, Guatemala suffers from a severe shortage of opioids – and it also has an existing population of farmers who rely on the poppy for their subsistence.
The poppy proposal, and the plans Pérez Molina announced for the creation of regulated markets, were presented to the President by Amanda when she visited him last week in advance of the Davos forum.
At Davos, the President also announced a proposal, developed together with the Beckley Foundation, to hold a global drug policy summit in Tikkal, Guatemala later this year. It will gather together Latin American leaders and a selected group of global business figures in order to build consensus and collaborations around options for drug policy reform.
George Soros, the billionaire businessman and philanthropist, joined President Pérez Molina for the announcement. He pledged the full support of himself and his Foundation to the summit.
“Prohibition, this war on drugs, has seen cartels grow and the results are not what we looked for,” Pérez Molina said. “There is a new trend towards drugs now – not war, but a new perspective and a different way of dealing with the problem.”
George Soros added, “I have a strong conviction that the current approach is doing more harm than good, and it has endangered more political stability in a lot of countries. That we need to change.”
Photo credit: Prensa Libre
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