Juan Manuel Santos, president of Colombia, during a 2008 conference.

Center for American Progress

Colombian President Denounces War on Drugs During Nobel Prize Speech

During his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said that zero-tolerance drug policies might be “even more harmful” than worldwide conflicts, calling on the world to “rethink” the war on drugs, according to a BBC report.

During his speech, Santos said that his nation had “paid the highest cost in deaths and sacrifices” in the war on drugs, noting that a conflict with FARC rebels in Colombia has led to the deaths of 260,000 people and the displacement of millions more. The president signed a peace deal with the rebels last month.

“I have served as a leader in times of war — to defend the freedom and the rights of the Colombian people — and I have served as a leader in times of making peace,” he said. “Allow me to tell you, from my own experience, that it is much harder to make peace than to wage war.”

Santos has pledged to donate the prize money — $8 million Swedish kroner ($925,000) — to the conflict’s victims.

“We have moral authority to state that, after decades of fighting against drug trafficking, the world has still been unable to control this scourge that fuels violence and corruption throughout our global community,” he said, adding, “it makes no sense to imprison a peasant who grows marijuana” when it’s legally allowed to be used in eight U.S. states.

“The manner in which this war against drugs is being waged is equally or perhaps even more harmful than all the wars the world is fighting today, combined,” he said.

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