Colombia Plans to Decriminalize Ecstasy
In its efforts to combat trafficking, the country seeks to legalize "personal doses" of synthetic drugs.
In an effort to tackle its rampant drug problems, Colombia is considering a new proposal to decriminalize synthetic drugs, like ecstasy. Since last year, the country allows possession of small doses of marijuana and cocaine. The new proposal, introduced Justice Minister Ruth Stella Correa, would seek to regulate synthetic drugs in the same way. "The new statute to be presented to the Congress during this mandate intends to make this authorization concrete, but broadening it to include synthetic drugs into what is defined as the personal dose," Justice Correa tells Colombia National Radio. Colombia continues to experience widespread violence and political instability as a result of its massive cocaine trade, even though exports have dropped in recent years. "The problem in Colombia is a problem with soft drugs: marijuana and cocaine," says a spokesman for the country's Green Party, which supports the measure. "The curse of drug trafficking depends fundamentally on cocaine and the decriminalization in the world will end this business." But some critics of the new proposal argue that the definition of "synthetic" in the wording may stretch to include heroin, which is reportedly a growing problem in cities like Medellin and Bogata.
The developments represent a departure from Colombia's previous hard line against drugs, and are in line with a growing trend towards legalization or decriminalization in Latin America. Last year, at a meeting for Central American Leaders regarding drug violence, Guatemalan president Otto Perez Molina proposed legalization as part of a bold plan to curb drug war violence. Meanwhile Uruguay's president, Jose Mujica, wants to legalize marijuana and create a state-run monopoly to regulate it.