Colombian Lawmakers Approve Marijuana Legalization Invoice In Committee As President Pushes For International Drug Coverage Reform

As Colombia’s lately inaugurated president steps up his push for world drug coverage reform, lawmakers authorized a invoice to legalize and regulate marijuana nationwide on Tuesday, advancing it via a committee with practically unanimous help.

The laws from Liberal Rep. Carlos Ardila and different lawmakers cleared the Chamber of Representatives First Committee in a 31-2 vote.

The proposal would create rules and set up a tax construction for authorized hashish gross sales. Income can be distributed amongst native municipalities to help public well being, training and agricultural initiatives.

Ardila stated that that is the “first step that should be taken as a result of the political prohibition is consigned” domestically, in response to a translation of a report from RCN Radio.

An outline of the aim of the proposal states that it will “regulate the usage of hashish for individuals of authorized age, thus guaranteeing the elemental proper to the free improvement of the character.”

It will additionally promote “a distinct strategy from the one used so far within the struggle towards the dangerous results on well being and society that this psychoactive substance might have, altering a purely legal strategy for one in every of hurt discount and public well being.”

“Likewise, with this legislative act, methods that profit the countryside will likely be promoted and others will likely be applied to fight the unlawful site visitors of this substance, betting on public well being and social progress,” the translated description says.

The invoice is one in every of at the least two marijuana legalization measures to advance within the legislature in latest weeks, with one other proposal from Liberal Rep. Juan Carlos Losada having already handed within the First Committee final month.

That lawmaker lately despatched a letter to searching for help for his invoice from President Gustavo Petro, a progressive who has strongly criticized the failures of the drug warfare and referred to as on world leaders to basically rethink drug coverage.

However as of but, the president hasn’t endorsed any of the precise hashish reform payments although he has vocally criticized the general prohibitionist strategy of the warfare on medicine.

Petro instructed members of the United Nations (UN) final month that “democracy will die” if world powers don’t unite to finish prohibition and undertake a distinct strategy, with thousands and thousands of lives on the road underneath the present regime.

The president stated in a separate interview final month that the U.S. and different nations will allow a “genocide” of avoidable overdose deaths if leaders preserve the established order of criminalization.

Petro additionally lately talked about the prospects of legalizing marijuana in Colombia as one technique of lowering the affect of the illicit market. And he signaled that the coverage change must be adopted by releasing people who find themselves at the moment in jail over hashish.

He spoke in regards to the financial potential of a authorized hashish trade, one the place small cities in locations just like the Andes, Corinto and Miranda might stand to profit from authorized marijuana cultivation, presumably with none licensing necessities.

The president additionally signaled that he’d be all in favour of exploring the concept of exporting hashish to different nations the place the plant is authorized.

In the meantime, within the Colombian Senate, a lawmaker is championing one other legalization invoice.

Sen. Gustavo Bolívar launched the measure in July, and he stated that the reform is inside attain now that the nation’s Congress has a liberal majority of lawmakers who match inside a political coalition often known as the Historic Pact.

U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), who chairs the Home Guidelines Committee, cheered the official swearing in of Petro, saying that he appears to be like ahead to “working collectively to…rethink drug coverage, and far more.”

President Joe Biden, however, appears intent on perpetuating the drug warfare in Colombia, with U.S. army help. He launched a memorandum to the protection secretary in August that authorizes the “interdiction of plane fairly suspected to be primarily engaged in illicit drug trafficking in that nation’s airspace.”

He stated that it’s “mandatory due to the extraordinary menace posed by illicit drug trafficking to the nationwide safety of that nation” and since “Colombia has applicable procedures in place to guard towards harmless lack of life within the air and on the bottom in reference to such interdiction, which incorporates efficient means to establish and warn an plane earlier than the usage of drive is directed towards the plane.”

That stated, Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated in a joint look with Petro on Monday that the U.S. usually backs his “holistic strategy” to medicine. The Colombian president, for his half, stated that nations have to “view the warfare on medicine in a different way.”

As a former member of Colombia’s M-19 guerrilla group, Petro has seen the violent battle between guerrilla fighters, narcoparamilitary teams and drug cartels that has been exacerbated by the federal government’s aggressive strategy to drug enforcement.

In response to the United Nations Workplace of Drug Management Coverage (ONDCP), Colombia stays a chief exporter of cocaine, regardless of “drug provide discount actions in Colombia, akin to eradication of coca bush and destruction of laboratories.”

In 2020, Colombian legislators launched a invoice that may have regulated coca, the plant that’s processed to supply cocaine, in an acknowledgment that the federal government’s decades-long struggle towards the drug and its procedures have constantly failed. That laws cleared a committee, however it was in the end shelved by the general conservative legislature.

Advocates are optimistic that such a proposal might advance underneath a Petro administration. The president hasn’t taken a transparent stance on the laws itself, however he campaigned on legalizing marijuana and promoted the concept of hashish as an alternative choice to cocaine.

Former Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos has additionally been vital of the drug warfare and embraced reform. In an editorial revealed earlier than he left workplace, he criticized the United Nations and U.S. President Richard Nixon for his or her position in setting a drug warfare commonplace that has proved ineffective at greatest and counterproductive at worst.

“It’s time we speak about accountable authorities regulation, search for methods to chop off the drug mafias’ air provide, and sort out the issues of drug use with larger sources for prevention, care and hurt discount with regard to public well being and the social material,” he stated.

“This reflection should be world in scope with the intention to be efficient,” Santos, who’s a member of the pro-reform International Fee on Drug Coverage, stated. “It should even be broad, together with participation not solely of governments but in addition of academia and civil society. It should attain past regulation enforcement and judicial authorities and contain consultants in public well being, economists and educators, amongst different disciplines.”

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Picture component courtesy of Bryan Pocius.


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