Colombian Chamber Of Representatives Passes Marijuana Legalization Bill In Initial Vote, With Support From Cabinet Ministers

A invoice to legalize marijuana in Colombia earned preliminary approval via the rustic’s Chamber of Representatives on Tuesday, despite the fact that it should nonetheless advance thru further debates earlier than doubtlessly being enacted into regulation.

The regulation from Rep. Juan Carlos Losada, which might legalize hashish for adults 18 and older, handed in the second one debate in a 105-33 vote. It wishes to move thru a complete of 8 debates with a view to be despatched to the Senate after which the president’s table.

President Gustavo Petro, a revolutionary who has been strongly advocating for a global finish to drug criminalization since being inaugurated in August, has mentioned the imaginable advantages of hashish legalization.

On Tuesday, management officers together with the heads of the Justice Ministry and Interior Ministry spoke in prefer of the legalization proposal earlier than lawmakers.

Justice Minister Néstor Osuna stated that what the present coverage of prohibition “ensures is that the income goes to the mafias and does not go through the public treasury,” in keeping with a translation. It additionally “does not solve the problems of problematic consumption.”

“This is a government of change—and that change [includes] a new drug policy that eliminates the drug gangs [and] the penalization of the cultivation,” the reputable stated.

Losada referenced contemporary feedback that the president delivered at a gathering of the United Nations (UN), urging member international locations to essentially alternate their approaches to drug coverage and disband with prohibition.

“If there is a country that has been a victim of this failed war on drugs, it is Colombia,” the lawmaker stated.

The flooring vote comes in a while after a congressional committee complex this measure and a separate legalization invoice from Rep. Carlos Ardila that comes with provisions to distribute tax earnings from hashish gross sales to particular person executive municipalities.

Ardila, who may be cosponsoring Losada’s invoice, stated that it’s “not unreasonable that what is collected from cannabis for adult use is destined solely and exclusively to municipalities, districts and departments because they are the ones that address” problems like public well being and protection.

Losada, for his phase, stated that he helps Ardila’s proposal.

Another lawmaker were given some consideration on the debate on Tuesday via admitting that he’s for my part used hashish for 25 years.

“What kills is stigmatization, illegality and lack of information,” Rep. Daniel Carvalho stated.

It doesn’t seem that the president has explicitly counseled both legalization invoice that’s complex in contemporary weeks, however the statements from Cabinet officers signifies that the reform has the management’s give a boost to.

As the sponsor identified, Petro advised participants of the UN remaining month that “democracy will die” if world powers don’t unite to finish prohibition and undertake a distinct means, with thousands and thousands of lives at the line beneath the present regime.

The president stated in a separate interview remaining month that america and different international locations will permit a “genocide” of avoidable overdose deaths if leaders deal with the established order of criminalization.

Petro additionally not too long ago mentioned the possibilities of legalizing marijuana in Colombia  as one manner of lowering the affect of the illicit marketplace. And he signaled that the coverage alternate will have to be adopted via freeing people who find themselves these days in jail over hashish.

He spoke concerning the financial possible of a prison hashish business, one the place small cities in puts just like the Andes, Corinto and Miranda may stand to take pleasure in prison marijuana cultivation, in all probability with none licensing necessities.

The president additionally signaled that he’d be considering exploring the speculation of ​​exporting hashish to different international locations the place the plant is prison.

Meanwhile, within the Colombian Senate, a lawmaker is championing some other legalization invoice.

Sen. Gustavo Bolívar offered the measure in July, and he stated that the reform is inside of achieve now that the rustic’s Congress has a liberal majority of lawmakers who are compatible inside of a political coalition referred to as the Historic Pact.

U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), who chairs the House Rules Committee, cheered the reputable swearing in of Petro , announcing that he seems to be ahead to “working together to…rethink drug policy, and much more.”

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President Joe Biden, alternatively, turns out intent on perpetuating the drug struggle in Colombia, with US army give a boost to. He launched a  memorandum to the protection secretary in August that authorizes the “interdiction of aircraft reasonably suspected to be primarily engaged in illicit drug trafficking in that country’s airspace.”

He stated that it’s “necessary because of the extraordinary threat posed by illicit drug trafficking to the national security of that country” and since “Colombia has appropriate procedures in place to protect against innocent loss of life in the air and on the ground in connection with such interdiction, which includes effective means to identify and warn an aircraft before the use of force is directed against the aircraft.”

That stated, Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated in a joint look with Petro previous this month that america most often backs his “holistic approach” to medicine. The Colombian president, for his phase, stated that international locations wish to “view the war on drugs differently.”

As a former member of Colombia’s M-19 guerrilla team, Petro has noticed the violent warfare between guerrilla opponents, narcoparamilitary teams and drug cartels that has been exacerbated via the federal government’s competitive strategy to drug enforcement.

According to the United Nations Office of Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), Colombia stays a prime exporter of cocaine,  regardless of  “drug supply reduction activities in Colombia, such as eradication of coca bush and destruction of laboratories.”

In 2020, Colombian legislators offered a invoice that will have regulated coca, the plant this is processed to supply cocaine, in an acknowledgment that the federal government’s decades-long battle towards the drug and its procedures have persistently failed. That regulation cleared a committee, but it surely used to be in the end shelved via the full conservative legislature.

Advocates are constructive that this sort of proposal may advance beneath the Petro management. The president hasn’t taken a transparent stance at the regulation itself, however he campaigned on legalizing marijuana and promoted the speculation of ​​hashish as a substitute for cocaine.

Former Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos has additionally been vital of the drug struggle and embraced reform. In an article revealed earlier than he left workplace, he criticized the United Nations and US President Richard Nixon for his or her position in environment a drug struggle same old that has confirmed useless at easiest and counterproductive at worst.

“It is time we talk about responsible government regulation, look for ways to cut off the drug mafias’ air supply, and tackle the problems of drug use with greater resources for prevention, care and harm reduction with regard to public health and the social fabric ,” he stated.

“This reflection must be global in scope in order to be effective,” Santos, who’s a member of the pro-reform Global Commission on Drug Policy, stated. “It must also be broad, including participation not only of governments but also of academia and civil society. It must reach beyond law enforcement and judicial authorities and involve experts in public health, economists and educators, among other disciplines.”

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Photo courtesy of Brian Shamblen.

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