Colombia will no longer impose fines on drug users

(Bogotá) Colombia will eliminate fines for consuming small quantities of drugs, in line with a change in direction in the fight against drug trafficking in the world’s largest cocaine-producing country.

A government decree published by local media on Saturday announces the repeal of sanctions against the possession of “narcotic or psychotropic substances” intended for personal use and not for sale.

The measure does not change the penalties of up to 20 years of imprisonment for offenses related to drug trafficking provided for in Colombian law, but it puts an end to the fines of around fifty dollars that the police impose on consumers.

“If the constitution authorizes doses for personal use, police activity should not focus on the pursuit of drug users but on that of the big drug lords,” explained President Gustavo Petro on the social network x.

” It is necessary […] to avoid the criminalization of drug users through corrective measures,” we can read in the decree dated December 7.

The possession and use of small quantities of marijuana, cocaine and certain synthetic drugs had already been decriminalized by a decision of the Constitutional Court in 1994, but the fines were maintained by a decision of the conservative government of Ivan Duque in 2018.

Mr. Petro, who also ordered security forces to cease operations against small-scale coca leaf farmers, advocates a change of direction in the anti-drug fight that Colombia is waging with economic aid from the United States, principal South American cocaine market.

For its part, the opposition claims that these decisions limit the authorities’ ability to fight drug trafficking, in a context of expansion of illicit crops and increase in local consumption.

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