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Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.

Should the drugs trade be legalized?

October 15th, 2009
05:23 PM ET

The reports from CNN's Karl Penhaul on cocaine and Colombia all this week have a big hit on the web and on TV.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/americas/10/13/colombia.drug.war/art.blender.jpg caption ="A gang member sniffs in a cloud of cocaine dust as he cuts the drug with other substances"]

His stories of hired assasins, cartel wars, submarine smugglers, gangsters molls, multibillion dollar deals and an overrun police force in the cocaine capital of Medellin have attracted thousands of hits and hundreds of comment from around the world – and been watched by hundreds of thousands on the small screen.

His knowledge of and contacts in Colombia - from years of reporting on the cocaine trade in this deadly region - have combined to deliver a unique insight this week for the CNN audience.

Tonight on the first ever Connect The World webcast on CNN.com Live at 2100 GMT/2300 CET with accompanying live Skype text chat from 2030 GMT/2230 CET, Karl joins Max Foster to discuss his reports and answer your questions.

Should cocaine be legalized? What do you want to ask Karl about the drugs trade? If you want to take part in the discussion, check here later for links to the Skype chat, or add a comment or question for Karl below.

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soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Keira

    First, congrats on a FANTASTIC piece on the drug trade! Very gritty and eye-opening.

    My question would be, how hard (or easy) was it to gain access to these people? Did they impose any restrictions on shooting the piece? Also, is there a solution (besides local/intl law enforcement) to curb the alarming number of murders & trafficking?

    October 15, 2009 at 6:16 pm | Reply
  2. Jason

    I believe marijuana should be made legal with the same restrictions that alcohol has. Only 100% Government run withh all of the profits going to the State

    October 15, 2009 at 6:28 pm | Reply
  3. XOXO

    Everyone is talking about legalising drugs and noone is talking about the large number of limitations that would have to be put in place.

    Look at what cigarette smokers have to deal with. Smoking is banned in some retaurants and offices. You get fined if you drops butts on the sidewalk in England.

    So with drug use. Can people take drugs at work? Can they get a pot-break?

    What about people that work with heavy equipment or need steady hands to work. How will drug use fit in with that? Who will decide the limitations of drug use or if limitations are needed?

    What about the medical fall out. Can drug sellers be sued?

    October 15, 2009 at 6:43 pm | Reply
  4. Zebbler (Peter Berdovsky)

    I think all drugs should be legalized and regulated.

    1. This will ELIMINATE most south american drug gangs and therefore save THOUSANDS and thousands of lives that are lost in gang violence and drug related murders each year.

    2. It will ELIMINATE a huge funding source for the Taliban in Afghanistan (opium, heroin trade)

    3. This will allow for a huge surge of tax income in the US, just when we need it most.

    4. It will prevent poisonings through badly made / cut drugs, by allowing them to be regulated and sold legally – their quality could also be officially regulated.

    5. It will save us a huuuge amount of money currently being spent on keeping people in prisons for drug offenses.

    6. It will most likely not change rates of addiction – as seen in examples of Portugal, etc. Remember – people will ALWAYS do drugs, legal or not. Best way to keep people off drugs is not making them illegal, but through social/peer pressure and education. Stay healthy, strong, productive – and contribute to our society.

    Sure, drugs are a menace. But the war on drugs is a much bigger and bloodier menace.

    October 15, 2009 at 6:46 pm | Reply
  5. Ricardo A. Zavala

    South Amrican countries produce cocaine because americans are willing to pay to obtain and use them.
    Someone in South America, not necessarily the goverments, should collect the cocaine and sell it in a international auction. This way the US goverment would have the chance to buy it and do whatever they choose to do. This way people in South America will not be the only ones that pay the bill.
    Ricardo A. Zavala

    October 15, 2009 at 6:48 pm | Reply
  6. Jeff

    All drugs should be legal and controlled completely by pharmacists, with the exception of Cannabis. There is no argument, that makes any real sense, for the legalization of alcohol and tobacco without the legalization of Cannabis.
    Harder drugs are a scourge but will always be used. The intelligent way to manage this reality is to use safety, while minimizing gang activity and violence.
    Extra revenue would not be a bad thing right now either.

    October 15, 2009 at 6:51 pm | Reply
  7. greg

    absolutely. Cocaine should be legalized, along with all the other drugs. They could be bought from clinics like methadone, which gets heroine addicts off the the mean streets. Keeping it illegal has not kept anyone from buying illegal drugs. They are everywhere. Legalizing takes the money out of the hands of the bad guys, frees up millions of dollars used in the "war on drugs", and offers a safe supply of drugs and drug consuling to addicts, who often commit horrible crimes to finance their habits and addictions.

    October 15, 2009 at 6:55 pm | Reply
  8. Phil

    I am in favor of legalizing mairjuana, mushrooms and any organic, unprocessed substance. Cocaine and heroine cause too much misery to the families of addicts and should remain illegal.

    October 15, 2009 at 7:08 pm | Reply
  9. Jack Metty

    I think drug trade is the root of all problems that some have.All the traders of drugs must be stopped by International police.I hope to see a world without drugs and addicted people.

    October 15, 2009 at 7:45 pm | Reply
  10. winston elliott

    HI ,
    It s with great interest I have read your articles. Great jounalism,your personal safety is paramount in obtaining those stories.
    I tried unsuccessfully to obtain an email address for Karl.
    KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK AND BE SAFE,THIS IS RISKY WORK

    October 15, 2009 at 8:11 pm | Reply
  11. Diana

    Karl, I would also like to congratulate you on an excellent article. I am from Medellín and I appreciate that you wrote about the reality of the young men that for many complex reasons end up doing what they do, but without unnecessary negative comments.
    Now, about the subject of legalization of drugs. They should NEVER be legalized. Not the production, not the distribution and not the use. Anything that affects the psyche of the human being must not be accepted as normal.
    And not because the millions of dollars of this business create so much corruption and cause so many deaths ALL over the world means the governments and the societies should give up the fight.
    What the different levels of society need to do is to educate for better values, respect of the human being and a higher moral.
    I just can't imagine living in a world where one could not go out to a restaurant or a movie or the mall without going back home completely dizzy because of second hand marijuana smoke or being afraid of being attacked by someone totally crazy after consuming cocaine or who nows what.
    Think about the future generations.
    Legalization is unacceptable.

    October 15, 2009 at 8:36 pm | Reply
  12. Juan Giraldo

    Every City has its demons, and for sure you will find this kind of staff everywhere, I just don’t understand the interest behind discrediting the city of Medellin and what the city and the whole country has done to change their international image. I was born there and lived there all my life, it’s sad to read these series of articles as for sure they don’t represent the whole picture.

    I agree with most of the blogger s the problem is on the demand and the lack of family values and personal responsibility.

    October 15, 2009 at 8:47 pm | Reply
  13. Carlton Robinson

    Writing from Nassau, The Bahamas. I last used cocaine April 23 1986. I spent six months in the Sandilands Rehabilitation Center, Nassau Bahamas in order to get off cocaine. I wrote, The Joy of Cocaine and Addiction Recovery: The surrender and Resurrection of the Soul.

    For someone who has been there, it takes at least six years to get your emotional and mental state stabilized. Until then, life is touch and go. Cocaine affects your body, mind and soul; when it is finished with you you are a stranger to the world, yourself and loved ones.

    One would deny nothing to get a hit of crack. Cocaine totally compromises your family, finances, health – you name it. It turns you to the point of desperation, where desperation has no conscience.

    Challenging thing about cocaine addiction is that you cannot force an addict to stop; the desire and dreams must come from within. Cocaine just wraps up your whole being and it takes an extra human feat to pass ten years sober. Been clean now twenty-four years. Lost many friends to HIV crime

    October 15, 2009 at 9:01 pm | Reply
  14. Alvin Chen

    All drugs should be legalized and regulated by the government. Drugs should not be a criminal justice problem, but rather a public health issue. The fact that drugs are illegal makes them all the more dangerous. After all, the use of cocaine in medicines in the United States was pretty common place up until the 1910's. That was when Americans panicked that black people were using it (this was before they were African-American), and it became illegal. I say we should reexamine all the old laws to see if they were passed for stupid reasons (Racism) and do away with them. There has to be a better way to handle cocaine than making it illegal and have people murder each other in the streets just to get it. (That better way is regulation and counseling)

    October 15, 2009 at 9:05 pm | Reply
  15. David Taubmann

    Congs for your first Connect the world Cast. Sounds like a great utility for the future.

    About you drug Trade legalization... YES! I'm in Mexico and have read some months ago 3 purposals one of your senators claimed as urgent for your country's problems, and the FIRST ONE was exactly to legalize drugs trade to have absolute control over it.
    At frist glance sounds dumb but it has logic and has happened in history with alcohol drinks and cigarretes that are considered as VICES nowadays.

    The other purposals where about economy and politics, and where alzo logic conclusions once you analize the histrory.

    October 16, 2009 at 1:05 am | Reply
  16. Carlton Robinson

    Writing from Nassau, The Bahamas. I last used cocaine April 23 1985. I spent six months in the Sandilands Rehabilitation Center, Nassau Bahamas in order to get off cocaine. I wrote, The Joy of Cocaine and Addiction Recovery: The surrender and Resurrection of the Soul.

    For someone who has been there, it takes at least six years to get your emotional and mental state stabilized. Until then, life is touch and go. Cocaine affects your body, mind and soul; when it is finished with you you are a stranger to the world, yourself and loved ones.

    One would deny nothing to get a hit of crack. Cocaine totally compromises your family, finances, health – you name it. It turns you to the point of desperation, where desperation has no conscience.

    Challenging thing about cocaine addiction is that you cannot force an addict to stop; the desire and dreams must come from within. Cocaine just wraps up your whole being and it takes an extra human feat to pass ten years sober. Been clean now twenty-four years. Lost many friends to HIV or crime. Marijuana maybe put cocaine noway.

    October 16, 2009 at 1:56 pm | Reply
  17. andrew taylor 4

    Alcohol and tobacco kill more people each year than all other drugs, legal and illegal, combined. Knowing this, I can't take the drug war seriously. I say legalize it all and use the tax money to fund education and rehabilitation.

    Drug awareness education should be fact-based rather than fear-based. There are plenty of legitimate reasons NOT to do drugs without resorting to hyperbole. There are also legitimate reasons for drug use. Responsible adults can look at the facts and make their decision. Irresponsible users will have to be rehabilitated as they are now.

    October 16, 2009 at 3:53 pm | Reply
  18. Diana

    It's amazing to realize how shallow and naïve people are reading many of the comments to this blog.
    Sure! Let's legalize all drugs! Wonderful! Let's party! Look how cigarettes and alcohol are legal now, and it's no problem at all. Are saying people here.
    Cigarettes and alcohol are a huge problem. And exactly a good example of why drugs should not be legalized. But if you want a better reason just take Holland. The dutch have legal drugs and even more, they give it away to anyone that wants it. They decided to do this because it is supposed to prevent crime and they were thinking the number of addicts would go down. Well, surprise surprise! It doesn't. The addicts still commit crimes to get more then the daily dosis and they never get out of it. On the contrary, that policy motivates people to get into drugs. Heck! It's free and then they can live the rest of their lives like human waste supported by the state. They love that stuff here in the north european countries.

    October 16, 2009 at 7:28 pm | Reply
  19. BoredGuy

    Drugz should be legalized, and each country governement should manufacture and sell them.

    We should be able to get drugz from a pharmacy on prescription(just so we wont die cus of overdose)

    http://boredguydiary.wordpress.com

    October 20, 2009 at 1:41 pm | Reply
  20. Avery

    I don't think that drugs like heroin, crystal meth, and cocaine should be made legal because of the more serious effects they have on people. Heroin addicts share needles and spread diseases. Crsystal Meth can make people mutilate themselves. Cocaine can give an average person super human strength. The cheaper more potent form of cocaine (crack) takes away all reason and morals that a person has. Cracked will do anything to get high including selling thier own children and stealing from family members.

    October 21, 2009 at 5:33 pm | Reply
  21. Carleddy Saint Jean

    Some drugs should be legalized and regulated in the world but, not all of them. But, with drugs being legalized it will eliminate most south american drug gangs as well as other gangs around the world and therefore save thousands of lives that are lost in gang violence and drug related murders each and every year. It will also allow for a huge income of tax money to enter countries and into the US , which is needed the most in this economic hold that we are in.

    October 21, 2009 at 8:57 pm | Reply

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