A committee of Colombian deputies approves a proposal to legalize cannabis

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As Colombia’s new president steps up efforts to reform global drug policy, the country’s lawmakers on Tuesday approved a bill to legalize and regulate cannabis across the country, pushing it through committee with near support. unanimous.

Liberal MP Carlos Ardila’s bill passed the House of Representatives First Committee by a 31-2 vote.

The proposal for the legalization of cannabis in Colombia wants to regulate “the consumption of cannabis for adults, thus guaranteeing the fundamental right to the free development of the personality”.

It would also promote “a different approach to the one used so far in the fight against the harmful effects on health and society that this psychoactive substance can have, by changing a purely penal approach for a risk reduction and health approach. public. »

“Also, with this legislative act, beneficial strategies for the rural environment will be promoted and others will be implemented to combat the illegal trafficking of this substance, betting on public health and social growth”, indicates the translated description.

The proposal would create regulations and establish a tax structure for legal cannabis sales. Revenues would be distributed to local municipalities to support public health, education and agricultural initiatives.

The bill is one of two cannabis legalization measures currently moving through the Colombian legislature. Another proposal by Liberal MP Juan Carlos Losada was already adopted in the first committee last month.

But so far, the president has not backed any of the specific cannabis reform bills, though he has strongly criticized the wholesale prohibitionist approach to the war on drugs.

Last month, Gustavo Petro told members of the United Nations (UN) that “democracy will die” if world powers do not come together to end prohibition and take a different approach, while millions of lives are at stake. at stake under the current regime.

The president said in another interview last month that the United States and other countries are enabling a “genocide” of preventable overdose deaths by maintaining the status quo of criminalization.

Gustavo Petro also recently spoke about the prospects of legalizing cannabis in Colombia as a way to reduce the influence of the illicit market. He said this change in policy should be followed by the release of those currently imprisoned for cannabis.

He spoke of the economic potential of a legal cannabis industry, in which small towns in the Andes, Corinto and Miranda could benefit from the legal cultivation of cannabis, possibly without licensing requirements.

The president also indicated that he would be interested in exploring the idea of ​​exporting cannabis to other countries where the plant is legal.

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