Franzini: "The use of Marijuana has
been Increasing in the Hemisphere"
RAFAEL FRANZINI, ASSISTANT EXECUTIVE SECRETARY of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) was interviewed by Channel 24 NTN international news to discuss the current debate on drug use and trafficking, and the negative impacts and violence that drug trafficking is having in our countries. The interview highlighted the current discussion of Marijuana legalization and the debates being held in some of the countries of the Western Hemisphere. The following is a summary of the interview carried out in the Washington D.C. studio of the Colombian news channel.
Rafael Franzini-Batlle, Assistant Executive Secretary, CICAD - OAS
NTN24: How is the region in terms of Marijuana production?
Rafael Franzini: If we focus on issues related to Marijuana production, we have to start by saying that Marijuana can be produced in every country and our hemisphere is not the exception. Most countries in the Americas produce Marijuana.
NTN24: What are the main markets that drug dealers look for?
RF: We're talking, obviously, about an illegal market, a trading market whose product is illegal. As such, the market traders are located where they have an opportunity to sell illegally.
NTN24: Can it be said that Latin America went from producer to consumer?
RF: The notion that Latin America was a producer and other countries were consumers, it is a belief that we had in the past. This idea was actually very incomplete, and largely a result of a lack of knowledge and data. We knew in the past that there were countries in the Americas that produced, but we did not have the data at hand to confirm if it was also consumed in these countries. We had a tendency to talk of producing countries, transit countries and consumer countries. In fact, in the past, there was consumption in many of these countries. Today, this can be measured and we can say that in many countries Marijuana use has increased.
NTN24: Drug trafficking and the violence associated with it, are they a threat to society as a whole?
RF: The problem is that drug trafficking itself, is associated with violence. Drugs produce violence, even as a way of settling internal problems. When violence occurs, we see it having a great impact on society. This transcends various fronts, and negatively affects economic output.
RF: Because illegal crops are being grown instead of legal crops, in areas where the state could be collecting taxes. On the other hand, narco-trafficking, and the subsequent fight to subdue its influence, is costing the State in property, citizen well-being, and human lives. We can also mention other costs, such as the spread of violence in society, the threatening of judges, or the undermining of the rule of law to compete with it. In conclusion, drug trafficking and violence has a large impact on society, and this impact is largely negative, of course.
NTN24: Former President of Mexico, Vicente Fox, is part of a group of former leaders that advocates for the decriminalization of drugs in Latin America as a solution to the armed conflict occurring in Mexico. Do you think this debate will be brought to the United Nations?
RF: The debate needs to be held somewhere. It’s going to be the countries – members of the United Nations and the Organization of American States – that comprise it. This is a debate among countries that are directly affected by the outcome. This is not a new initiative; there are Latin American countries that do not punish the possession or the personal use of Marijuana. Other countries are moving in this direction, engaging in the debate. Today there are no taboos. As I said recently, in our region, some countries have already decriminalized the use of Marijuana; and, of course, the debate should come to multilateral organizations.