The Telegraph, 27 October 2011

Juan Manuel Santos, the Colombian president, has called for the global legalisation of marijuana to help combat the trafficking of harder drugs and related violence.

Mr Santos added his voice to a growing list of influential figures in Latin America demanding a rethink of the policies that have been used for decades to fight the drugs trade.

He said legalising softer drugs such as marijuana worldwide could help improve international efforts to deal with harder drugs such as cocaine and heroin.

"The world needs to discuss new approaches ... we are basically still thinking within the same framework as we have done for the last 40 years," he said.

Asked if making marijuana legal could offer a way forward, Mr Santos said it could and that he would support it "provided everyone does it at the same time". But he emphasised that other countries needed to take the lead, saying the issue was "a matter of national security" for Colombia, whereas "in other countries this is mainly a health and crime issue".

"Drug trafficking is what finances the violence and the irregular groups in our country. I would be crucified if I took the first step," he said in an interview with Metro, the global free daily newspaper chain.

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