Bill to legalize adult-use cannabis in Colombia passes first hurdle
Adult-use cannabis legalization cleared its first hurdle in Colombia this week. A bill to “regularize” cannabis for adult use cleared the first of eight legislative debates, marking an important step in the path to reform.
The bill previously made it all the way through committee, falling short when it reached the country’s Senate for a final vote during the last legislative session.
“Today…we start again a path full of challenges to start writing a new story in the fight against drugs. We need to move forward in a change in drug policy and our project of #CannabisDeUsoAduto is the first step,” Rep. Juan Carlos Losada, a champion of the bill, said in a Tweet that used a soccer field to illustrate the road to legalization.
Hoy en @ComisionPrimera iniciamos de nuevo un camino lleno de retos para empezar a escribir una nueva historia en la lucha contra las drogas. Necesitamos avanzar en un cambio en la política de drogas y nuestro proyecto de #CannabisDeUsoAduto es el primer paso.#RegularCannabisYA pic.twitter.com/qMYquqMsBW
— Juan Carlos Losada (@JuanKarloslos) August 29, 2023
Colombian President Gustavo Petro is an advocate for global drug policy reform. He previously touted the benefits of cannabis legalization in an interview, saying it would help his country’s economy.
“We’ll see if [cannabis can be] exported and we’ll earn a few dollars because half of humanity [has legalized it],” President Petro remarked.
President Petro met with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador last year to discuss how the two nations could work together on drug reform. While it is unclear what the long-term plans are, the current model of criminalization was at the center of the debate.
“Recognizing the failure of the fight against drugs and the vulnerability of our peoples in the face of this problem, Mexico and Colombia will convene an International Conference of Latin American leaders with the objective of redesigning and rethinking drug policy,” the leaders said in a joint statement.
If approved, Colombia would become the second South American nation to fully legalize cannabis. Uruguay was the first to enact reform, passing legislation in 2013. Colombia decriminalized minor possession and cultivation of cannabis, but full legalization would create a regulated market.
While the bill still has a long way to go before a final vote, the initial committee hearing is a positive step forward for advocates.