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Legalize drugs? VP Biden says no.

Mitchell Hartman Mar 6, 2012

Jeremy Hobson: Vice President Joe Biden arrives in Honduras this morning as part of a trip to Latin America with a focus on violence and the drug trade.

Some countries are pressuring the U.S. to legalize drugs, as Marketplace’s Mitchell Hartman reports.

Mitchell Hartman: Countries like Mexico, Guatemala, and Costa Rica have seen violence, criminality and corruption soar with the expansion of drug production and trafficking. Leaders of several countries in the region have said they want to open a discussion about decriminalization. And they’re talking about not just their own countries, but the main market for their drugs: the U.S.

Jeffrey Miron is an economics lecturer at Harvard and a fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute. He says decriminalizing would likely take some of the profit out of black market drugs.

Jeffrey Miron: You can certainly generate reduction of the prices substantially toward their free-market levels. So de-escalating the war on drugs would lead to reduction in prices and that’s what gets you to the reduction in violence and corruption.

Vice President Biden has responded with a resounding “not interested,” saying, “It’s worth discussing, but there is no possibility the Obama/Biden administration will change its policy on [drug] legalization.”

I’m Mitchell Hartman for Marketplace.

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