So, what do you think? Should the United States legalize drugs like marijuana, cocaine, and heroin? Vote now!
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By Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ)
Special to CNN
Editor’s Note: Chris Smith is a Republican congressman from New Jersey’s Fourth District. He is a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Ranking Republican of the Committee's Africa and Global Health Subcommittee.
On a recent April morning, I joined a group of former Cuban political prisoners and family members and human rights activists at a rally to voice concerns about human rights violations in Cuba, and to caution the Obama administration not to extend benefits to Cuba without the prior release of all political prisoners.
Days earlier, seven Democratic members of the House returned from Cuba having met with Raul and Fidel Castro. They gushed with praise for the Castros and their regime. But I, and many others, were profoundly disappointed that once again members of Congress traveled to this totalitarian country and failed to visit prisoners of conscience, all of whom are systematically abused, tortured, starved and degraded.
By Asa Hutchinson
Special to CNN
Editor's note: Asa Hutchinson is former Director of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and served as the Under Secretary for Border and Transportation Security at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
When it comes to the debate on legalization of marijuana, we can all have confidence in the greatness of our democracy. Ultimately the voters decide the direction of our country. Thus far there is no evidence that the public is in any mood to legalize marijuana or other currently illegal drugs.
In Arkansas, a few years back, a statewide ballot initiative could not even get on the ballot because the proponents could not garner enough signatures. Nationwide, recent ballot initiatives have focused on medical marijuana or enforcement policy.
The advocates of legalization are trying to chip away on the fringes of the legalization debate but they know there is not a sufficient popular movement for legalization. Parents are in no mood to make another harmful drug more accessible and socially acceptable for the youth.
President Obama makes his first trip to Mexico today as drug violence continues to plague the border between the U.S. and Mexico. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will be with the president on his visit. She joined Kiran Chetry on CNN’s American Morning Thursday.
Kiran Chetry: We heard from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who said America's insatiable demand for drugs is in part fueling the drug wars. Do you think we're partly to blame for the violence we've been seeing along the border?
Janet Napolitano: Well, there certainly is a relationship. You can't deny it. These are huge drug cartels that have developed over time. They're very violent. Witness the fact that there were over 6,000 homicides in northern Mexico last year including 550 that were assassinations of law enforcement or public officials in Mexico. What we're working to do, is to work to stop the flow of guns and cash in to Mexico that are helping fuel these cartels. But also, we're working at the border to make sure that the spillover violence doesn't occur in our own cities and communities.
President Obama is headed to Mexico today and will be meeting with Mexico’s president, Felipe Calderon. The president will share his vision about what it will take to tackle the drug cartels to combat deadly violence that’s spilling over the border.
John Ackerman is editor-in-chief of the Mexican Law Review and lives in Mexico City. Ackerman spoke to Kiran Chetry on CNN’s American Morning Thursday.
Kiran Chetry: As President Obama gets ready to meet with Mexican President Calderon, what guarantees do we need to give to Mexico first of all?
John Ackerman: I think President Obama should be very aware of the situation that’s occurring here in Mexico, in terms of the serious politicizing that is happening with regards to the combating of the drug traffickers. Calderon has been very much emphasizing the military aspects of the combating of the drug traffickers, which I think is a mistake. We really need to think about institution building and changing the focus of the strategy of the attack on the drug traffickers. Obama should be aware of this. It's very easy to talk about the war on drugs. But it’s also very dangerous because there have been serious attacks on human rights and there hasn’t been enough done in terms of combating corruption in Mexico.