In local elections in Colombia, voters chose candidates not aligned with President Gustavo Petro.

Colombian President Gustavo Petro knew some of the candidates he had backed were faltering ahead of Sunday’s local elections. But when the votes were counted, the results were much worse for the president than almost anyone expected. The outcome was such a decisive setback that the elections looked like a rebuke of his presidency.

Colombian President Gustavo Petro speaks during a ceremony in Bogota, Colombia.

No one paying attention would disagree with Colombian President Gustavo Petro’s assessment that the “war on drugs” has failed miserably. But highlighting the failure of previous strategies to tackle drug trafficking does nothing to protect the embattled Petro from what has happened to Colombia’s cocaine trade since he took office.

Petro's drug policy in the Colombia without a "war on drugs" has hurt relations with the US.

Colombian President Gustavo Petro’s approach to the War on Drugs has proven far less radical than he promised—and less intelligible as well. But despite the obstacles to a total overhaul of Bogota’s strategy, a confluence of circumstances in both Colombia and the U.S. may offer a unique opportunity for drug policy reform.

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