President Obama speaks alongside Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos… (Saul Loeb / AFP/Getty Images )
CARTAGENA, Colombia -- President Obama said Saturday that he is open to a debate about current drug laws but that he believes legalizing narcotics could lead to even greater problems in those countries hardest hit by trafficking and violence.
Obama told Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Saturday that he is willing to discuss whether current laws are "doing more harm than good."
But "legalization is not the answer," Obama said.
As president of Colombia, which was ravaged for years by drug-related violence, Santos raised the question of legalization during this weekend's Summit of the Americas meeting here.
Santos wants the 33 leaders at the summit to consider whether a solution to combating trafficking should include regulating marijuana, and perhaps cocaine, the way alcohol and tobacco are. Other member states also are calling for that dialogue, despite the political discomfort it may cause Obama back home.
In a public session Saturday morning, Santos raised the possibility of legalizing drugs as one of several options for combating the drug trade.
Leaders in the western hemisphere need to "analyze what we are doing," Santos said.
Parents of children lured by drugs say "no way" to the idea of legalization, Santos said, but added that it could be a solution to be considered.
Original source: Obama: Legalizing drugs not the answer to fighting trafficking