Colombian Senate approves cannabis legalization bill

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The Colombian Senate has overwhelmingly approved a bill to legalize cannabis in Colombia, although there are still several legislative steps before it can be enacted.

The bill, which also received initial approval in the country’s House of Representatives, was approved in the Colombian Senate in the fourth round of debate on Tuesday by a vote of 56 votes in favor to 3 against.

Lawmakers have met several times in recent weeks to debate the reform proposal, which would amend the country’s Constitution to end cannabis prohibition for adults. Yesterday’s vote came about two weeks after the legalization bill was passed by the Senate First Committee.

The proposed constitutional amendment, sponsored by Deputy Juan Carlos Losada, takes into account the impacts of legalization on public health and the economy, as well as the ideological principle of individual autonomy. If passed, authorities will have six months to enact rules for the adult-use market.

The legalization bill supports “the right to free development of personality, by allowing citizens to decide on the consumption of cannabis within a regulated legal framework”. And it would mitigate “arbitrary discriminatory or unequal treatment of the population that consumes”.

The bill will limit possession and public consumption in schools and certain public spaces. It also includes public education campaigns and the promotion of addiction treatment services.

As a proposed constitutional amendment, the legislation must go through a total of eight debates, spread over two separate calendar years.

In September, the Colombian president gave a speech at a meeting of the United Nations (UN), in which he urged member countries to fundamentally change their approach to drug policy and end prohibition. .

Gustavo Petro also recently raised the prospect of legalizing cannabis in Colombia as a way to reduce the influence of the illicit market. And he indicated that this change in policy should be followed by the release of those currently imprisoned for cannabis.

He also met with the Mexican President to jointly reshape drug policies.

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