Colombia's high court has ruled that possessing the famous 'minimum dosage' of drugs is a right of personal development for Colombians. This had been true for many years, until conservative ex-Pres. Alvaro Uribe persuaded the legislature to ban the dosage, with the justification that drug sellers were hiding behind the law by carrying only the legal amount on their person. Uribe's Law of Citizen Security imposed prison sentences of 64 to 108 months for possessing up to 1,000 grams of marijuana or 100 grams of cocaine. The court decision depenalizes possession of one gram of cocaine and 20 grams of marijuana.
Even now, buying and selling drugs is still illegal, creating a fundamental contradiction.
And there's also a huge breach between the legal ruling and what happens when a cop stops someone on the street.
One friend says that the cops can confisticate the drugs, but no longer arrest you. Or that they can make you eat the drugs. I understood that the ruling was to replace punishment with rehabilitation for drug users. I suspect that the cops can still do a lot of things, especially if you look like you can't afford a lawyer.
I am also confused by most of the media coverage of the minimum dosage debate, which has focused on the idea that addicts require treatment, not punishment. That's true enough, but ignores the fact that most cocaine and marijuana users, just like most drinkers of alcohol, are recreational consumers who want not treatment, but just to be left alone.
Attorney General Eduardo Montealegre told El Tiempo that he supported the court ruling: "This decision protects the right to equality and autonomy and the free development of a person's personality," he said. "The state doesn't have the right to tell a citizen how he should orient his life. There are areas where personal autonomy takes precedence over the majority opinion."
High police officials and even Pres. Santos have backed decriminalizing and regulating some drugs.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours