Colombia and Drug Legalization: Forthcoming Research From COHA

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An upcoming article by COHA Research Fellow on Andean Affairs, Rachel Godfrey Wood, will be published in two parts. This first part will ask what the implications of legalization of drug use would be for Colombia, with a particular focus on domestic consumption. It starts off by reaffirming the need to legalize marijuana and cocaine in order to significantly reduce drug-related violence in Colombia and throughout the entire region. It investigates what Daniel Lende refers to as the “Paradox of Colombia,” low drug consumption despite high availability of illicit substances. It demonstrates that Colombia´s relatively low consumption of such drugs is related to cultural factors, rather than legal status, and affirms that the 1994 Constitutional Court decision to decriminalize the personal consumption of drugs has not brought about a perceptible increase in national consumption.

The second part of Wood’s analysis will address the possible ways in which drugs could be legalized, and how by doing this, the Government will be able to exert greater control over the narcotics industry. It highlights Francisco Thoumi´s “naïve proposal” of creating “insurance against drug addiction” in order to rationalize the relationship between personal responsibility and public health treatment. Furthermore, it looks at the constantly bleak international environment for any reasonable discussion about drugs policy, and asks what policies should countries like Colombia put into place in the face of the realities plaguing the region.