ColombiaOne.comColombia newsClash Over Colombia's New Stance on Public Drug Use

Clash Over Colombia’s New Stance on Public Drug Use


Petro controversy drug consumption law
Controversy between President Petro and the Conservative Party over the law that criminalizes drug use in public spaces – Credit: Eneas de Troya / CC BY 2.0 Deed

Controversy between Colombia’s President, Gustavo Petro, and the Conservative Party regarding the law penalizing drug consumption in public spaces. Although the law is in effect, penalizing drug use on the streets, what the government has done, following a judicial mandate, is decriminalize the possession of small amounts of drugs for personal use.

Representatives from the Conservative Party have announced they will present a bill to reinstate the decree revoked by the government, effectively eliminating fines for those carrying drugs for personal use. “Micro-trafficking is given free rein to act with full freedom,” party sources have stated.

Petro asserts that sanctions don’t combat consumption

The Colombian President has responded to this proposal by the conservatives, stating that “if the decree imposing administrative sanctions on a freedom granted by the Constitution is unconstitutional, a law saying the same as the decree is also unconstitutional.”

Petro added, “drug consumption is not addressed with jail cells or police fines. Addictive drug consumption is addressed with public health methods.”

While the government’s decision was provoked by a court order, the President clarified that his government’s policy aligns with the measure. This is consistent with the executive’s stance on the need, in his view, to redirect anti-drug policies nationally and regionally in Latin America.

Public consumption remains prohibited

Hours later, the President posted on his social media a new video featuring the Minister of Justice, Néstor Osuna, explaining the reasons behind the decree’s repeal and what remains unchanged regarding drug consumption in public spaces.

“Don’t be misled by misinformation. The only thing the government has done is repeal fines for personal drug possession because that’s what the courts ordered. Everything else remains the same,” clarified the President.

Furthermore, the head of state clarified that “the prohibition of consumption in public places must be established by each municipality. This is also a mandate of the Constitutional Court that we comply with and agree with.”

The Minister of Justice also confirmed that the government’s measure does not change the prohibition on consuming or trafficking drugs in the country. Osuna also clarified that micro-trafficking remains illegal and “severely prohibited by Colombian law.” Thus, the government’s decree only revokes the previous government’s decree under Iván Duque, which imposed fines for personal drug possession.

Néstor Osuna emphasized that this is a judicial decision the government must comply with because according to the court ruling, the possession of small amounts of drugs for personal use cannot be penalized. The minister clarified that “what is forbidden in Colombia is the trade and trafficking of drugs.”

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