Ecuador May Decriminalize All Illegal Drug Use
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Ecuador is reviewing a new piece of legislation that, if passed, would decriminalize the use of all illegal drugs.
The bill, authored by Carlos Velasco, who chairs the Ecuadorian congress’ Commission of the Right to Health, aims to put an end to the country’s war on drugs by providing drug users with treatment and rehabilitation instead of jail time.
“Treating the drug phenomenon in a repressive way, as was done in the 1980s and 1990s when prison was the only destination for the drug consumer, is absurd,” said Velasco.
Aside from shifting the country’s paradigm towards drugs and drug use, Velasco says another key component to putting an end to the war on drugs is educating the public about the harmful effects of drugs.
But Ecuador isn’t the only country pushing for the decriminalization of illegal drugs. British businessman Richard Branson and UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg hope the English government will follow in Ecuador’s footsteps.
“As an investment, the war on drugs has failed to deliver any returns,” Branson and Clegg wrote, citing a growing criminal market, rising incarceration rates of “people whose only crime is the possession of a substance to which they are addicted” and no meaningful reduction in drug use across Britain’s population. “If it were a business, it would have been shut down a long time ago. This is not what success looks like.”
Many Ecuadorians support Velasco’s bill, but there are many who oppose it, reasoning that its implementation will only increase drug use. The bill will be debated by Ecuadorian lawmakers later this month.