Bruno Avangera, a 40-year-old web designer from Tucumán in Argentina, pauses to relight a half-smoked joint of cannabis. Then he speaks approvingly of "progress and the right decision" by the country's seven supreme court judges, who decided last week that prosecuting people for the private consumption of small amounts of narcotics was unconstitutional.Boy, that sure does sound familiar doesn't it? When I was working as a youth counselor that's exactly how I felt. I loved working with young people and helping them to better themselves but it was incredibly frustrating to see teenagers told they are addicts, and that they'll always be addicts, when the truth is - most were just kids experimenting with cannabis and were coerced into treatment because they got caught.
"Last year three of my friends were caught smoking a spliff in a park and were treated like traffickers," he said. "They went to court, which took six months. One went to jail alongside murderers. The others were sent to rehab, where they were treated for an addiction they didn't have, alongside serious heroin and crack users. It was pointless and destroyed their lives."
Its time for Latin America to stand up to U.S. drug war politicking. Countries are being torn apart by our demand for drugs - which will never go away. We have a clear choice: embrace harm reduction and legalization or continue to fund drug cartels and ignore real drug abuse problems in the U.S.