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  • A Cato Institute blog reported yesterday that Argentina has “decriminalized the personal consumption of drugs” in that country. However, I don’t think that blog’s interpretation of the source it cites, which is an article in Spanish published on the website El Financiero, quite gives the full story.

    First of all, the court that handed down this decision is not Argentina’s highest court. The article makes plain that “la cuestión debe dirimirse en la Corte Suprema de Justicia” — in other words, “the question may be reversed in the Supreme Court.” Additionally, the source article simply states that the court “declared the unconstitutionality of laws that punish consumers of drugs.” But as any wary drug war watcher surely realizes, there is more than one way to skin a cat, and there is more than one way to throw drug users in prison even if certain laws are struck down by courts. So it’s not as though Argentina has suddenly made a radical change in policy. One lower court has suggested that it thinks policy should change. But you can bet that serious international pressure will be brought to bear on the higher ups to reverse that decision, just as Mexico’s brief flirtation with decriminalization was suddenly reversed in 2006 after the U.S. intervened.
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