RETIRED policemen, judges and presidents who support radical drug-law reform still greatly outnumber those who pipe up while still in the job. But calls for a rethink are increasingly coming from incumbents too. Last year Bolivia’s left-wing government briefly withdrew from the UN’s Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the 1961 treaty underpinning prohibition. It returned after negotiating an opt-out for coca, a traditional mild stimulant (unlike cocaine, no more harmful than caffeine) protected by the country’s constitution.
More hawkish leaders are also thinking twice. Felipe Calderón, Mexico’s conservative president, said in August: “if you [America] are determined and resigned to consume drugs, then seek market alternatives…or establish clear points of access other than the border with Mexico. This position can no longer go on.” Soon after, Juan Manuel Santos, the centre-right president of Colombia, said he would welcome legalisation if it cut criminals’ profits.