|John and Ariana sniff glue, a legal drug, on a sidewalk in central Bogota.|
The old minimum dosage right was ended in 2010 by Pres. Alvaro Uribe, a strong advocate of prohibitionism who argued that drug dealers hid behind the minimum dose law by carrying only that amount on their persons. The law permitted possession and consumption, but not buying and selling.
|A few of the countless studies about |
illegal drugs and Colombia.
The proposed new National Drug Statute would permit possession of sharply reduced quantities of illegal drugs: for example, the old law permitted the carrying of 20 grams of marijuana, and the new proposed law only 5 grams. It may also include synthetic drugs.
As a first step toward treating drug addiction as what it is - a disease, rather than a crime, the new statute would be a step forward. But, until Colombia and other countries take the much more risky step of legalizing commerce in now-banned drugs they'll do little to reduce the crime and violence caused by the illegal drug economy.
|Drunks recovering from a binge on a Bogotá sidewalk.|
U.S. officials have said they'll listen to alternative viewpoints - but that they're sure that prohibitionism is the best policy (or the least-worse one, anyway). One U.S. official argued that Latin American nations need to strengthen their police forces, legal systems and other public institutions, which often are very corrupt. But this is a Catch-22, since the drug trade is one of the biggest corrupters of these institutions. And, the fact that huge quantities of drugs are imported into the U.S. every year and distributed all across its territory demonstrates that even relatively strong institutions aren't enough.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours