Argentina's Security Minister Patricia Bullrich was under fire Monday after calling the Netherlands, where marijuana's consumption and sale is legal, a “narco-state.”
“Today, Dutch state officials are saying that Holland is a narco-state,” she said during an interview meant to defend her position against the legalization of cannabis in Argentina. “They are in crisis — they are Europe's main exporters of synthetic drugs.”
“Decriminalization supposed to reduce risks, while increasing immediately the number of consumers. This is what happened in Holland: not only it was the only country that implemented the legalization, it also became the top country being visited from everywhere,” she said during an interview with the TV channel America on Sunday night.
Sparking a controversy, the minister was later forced to explain to daily Clarin that she did “not mean to offend Holland's government” and announced that she will contact the Dutch embassy in a bid to mitigate the diplomatic spat.
Her comments came as Argentina's lawmakers are debating a reform of the Criminal Code that could lower sentences punishing drug consumption in the country.
In Uruguay, since marijuana legalization, there has been an almost 20 percent drop in drug-related crime according to the official estimate released in January.
A growing number of Latin American countries are considering the decriminalization of drug consumption, going against the prohibitionist policies banning so far narcotics use, a model promoted by the U.S., which many world leaders argue has proven to be ineffective and counter-productive.