Saturday, May 20, 2006

"Soon" or "Anytime Soon"

Regarding Fox's veto of the drug reform legislation, does the aphorism, "timing is everything," apply here? Could such a law have been enacted and sustained at a time of greater Fox-Bush affinity?

In March 2001, Drug War Chronicle reported that President Fox endorsed legalization, but he said that in taking such a major step, Mexico could not act alone.

Assuming that Mexico could not act alone in May 2006, when (soon? anytime soon?) might there be a constellation of nations that might together aid global navigation toward decriminalization?

Canada's conservative government has been shaky, but got a boost in polls with its current budget proposal. Could the Liberals retake power in Ottawa in the next two years? Would they and the reform oriented New Democratic Party form a coalition that would include drug reform?

The Netherlands government is as always a coalition but not uniformly conservative or liberal. How long a lease on its majority can it hold? The next election is less than a year away, April 3, 2007.

Italy has a brand new government that is much more sympathetic to reform than the Berlusconi government that it just replaced. (But its six party coalition could easily unravel.)

Australia's Prime Minister John Howard has been pushing an anti-reform agenda since 1997 called "Tough on Drugs." Howard's government, elected in 1996, has been re-elected twice, most recently in November 2001, and has been coalition with the very conservative National Party.

Britain's Tony Blair's government has been a mixed blessing on drug policy. His Labor government has suffered disastrously in recent local elections. His days as Prime Minister are numbered. There is speculation that he could resign imminently, as reported in The Washington Post on May 20 in a profile on Gordon Brown, Blair's Labor Party number two. In September 2005, the man who has becoame the leader of the Conservative Party, David Cameron, a young 39 years old, said he supports drug legalization.

So it is not inconceivable that by 2008 the Bush Administration -- by then a "lame duck" in the American political vernacular -- could be facing a number of governments with reform ideas about drug policy.

The challenge is for reformers around the globe to begin working together and working smarter.

And this hasty summary completely omits many nations, large and small, where drug policy reform might become politically urgent on one ground or another.

In Brazil, organized crime and prison gangs, just staged a week of riots in prison and in the largest city, Sao Paulo, according to The Washington Post. Such events have the potential to galvanize a nation into reform. Consider the impact of the much less bloody Valentine's Day massacre in the U.S.

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