Colombia lawmakers have approved a bill to legalize and regulate cannabis nationwide, advancing it through a committee with nearly unanimous support. President Gustavo Petro, who recently became Colombia’s first leftist president along with Francia Márquez, the first Black female vice president in the nation’s history, is also pushing for global drug policy reform.
Cannabis Legislation: What’s It All About?
The legislation from Liberal Rep. Carlos Ardila and other lawmakers cleared the Chamber of Representatives First Committee in a 31-2 vote, reported local outlets.
“This is the first step that must be taken because the political prohibition is consigned locally,” said Ardila according to a translation of a report from RCN Radio.
If the proposal becomes law, it would create regulations and establish a tax structure for legal marijuana sales, and the revenue collected would be distributed among local municipalities to support public health, education, and agriculture initiatives.
Con 31 votos a favor y 2 en contra, la #ComisiónPrimera de @CamaraColombia aprobó, en primer debate, nuestro proyecto de acto legislativo para regular el cannabis y garantizar ingresos tributarios para municipios, distritos y departamentos. #OportunidadParaLasRegiones #ReguleseYa pic.twitter.com/eCGalPweAu
— CARLOS ARDILA 🚩 (@CARLOSARDILA10) October 4, 2022
The proposal stated that it would “regulate the use of cannabis for people of legal age, thus guaranteeing the fundamental right to the free development of the personality.” It would also promote “a different approach from the one used up to now in the fight against the harmful effects on health and society that this psychoactive substance may have, changing a purely criminal approach for one of harm reduction and public health.
“Likewise, with this legislative act, strategies that benefit the countryside will be promoted and others will be implemented to combat the illegal traffic of this substance, betting on public health and social growth.”
The bill is one of at least two marijuana legalization measures that have advanced through the legislature in recent weeks.
Last month, another proposal from the liberal deputy Juan Carlos Losada passed in the First Commission. He recently sent a letter to President Petro seeking support for his bill. At the moment, Petro has not endorsed any of the specific cannabis reform bills.
Petro’s Opinion About Cannabis Policy & War On Drugs
Petro has called for Colombia to move away from the “ineffective” drug policies formed with the United States, saying that Colombia should pave its own path. Petro, an economist, favors legalizing marijuana. “The issue of marijuana seems stupid to me to keep it underground,” Petro said.
In his first speech before the United Nations (UN), Petro denounced the failure of the war on drugs saying: “I come from one of the most beautiful countries on earth (…) I come from a country of bloody beauty. It is not only beautiful but there is also violence there (…) I demand from here, from my wounded Latin America, to end the irrational War on Drugs.”
US Colombia Relations
Luis Gilberto Murillo, Colombian ambassador in Washington (USA), affirmed that any government effort to achieve peace in Colombia has the support of the Biden administration.
“The United States supports the peace efforts that the Colombian government is making and that is part of all the dialogue work that we have had these months,” Murillo said.