Colombia’s congress is, once again, returning to the controversial subject of recreational cannabis. After several attempts and one near miss, proponents hope that this time legislation permitting the commercialization of recreational cannabis will finally pass. However, the usual opponents are emerging from the woodwork once more to spread fear and doubt with their outdated ideas
Once again, Congress returns to discuss a project to allow the commercialization of recreational cannabis. Once again, the self-proclaimed beacons of morality emerge to wield outdated arguments on how we cannot approve such nonsense. And, once again, the expectations of bringing Colombia in line with international trends have little chance of being fulfilled.
And while Colombia is not alone in dragging its heels on recreational cannabis commercialization, it is still trailing many of its South American neighbors as we have already covered here and in our free companion cannabis news app.
Time to Put Aside Old Prejudices Against Recreational Cannabis
In any case, it is still necessary to insist that something be done for recreational cannabis. What a great contribution the congressmen in their last legislatures and President Iván Duque in his last year would make to the country if they put aside prejudices and fears to support this measure in an unrestricted manner? It would be one of the pieces of legislation with the greatest immediate and future impact on the country. Why not do it this time?
Every now and then we have to return to the same subject on these pages. Just at the beginning of the current Congress, a group of congressmen from different parties announced with great fanfare the presentation of an ambitious recreational cannabis project. It ended in nothing. Then they tried again, made some progress, and finally, with a narrow vote, it crashed with some legislators entrenched in the past. Despite this, it is time to move forward.
Colombia Could Become a Benchmark for Legal Cannabis
Recently, the government of Iván Duque signed a key decree for the industrial production of medical cannabis and the export of the plant’s dried flower. This is an explicit recognition of what conservative congressmen deny: Colombia has been consolidating as a benchmark for legal cannabis production.
And it is only logical. We have the appropriate climates, we have the historical knowledge, we have ample and generous regulations. The legal foreign investment that has entered the country on this issue has created jobs and formed a market of some five million people around medical cannabis. Approving recreational use is a logical step that could strengthen the national economy and create an excellent source of future revenue.
Opponents Mistakenly Conflate Commercial Recreational Cannabis With Illicit Activity
Opponents of the recreational cannabis initiative say that supporting it is a favor to drug trafficking. Quite the contrary. To build a legal market is to put in place more controls and regulations, to support formal enterprises, and to take oxygen away from criminals.
They also argue that regulating recreational use is to affect children and adolescents. Another mistake. With strict surveillance and clear rules, we can protect minors, finance education campaigns that are the most effective tool, and avoid the worst effects of addictions.
Colombia at Risk of Being Left Behind
The world is racing towards cannabis regulation. The United States is full of new ventures, all very profitable, thanks to the relaxation of prohibitions. Scientific studies support the idea that cannabis cannot be compared to hard drugs. Its reality is analogous to what happens with alcohol. Why do congressmen feel comfortable lobbying and politicking between drinks, but deny the country the possibility of exercising autonomy in the consumption of cannabis?
We have many flaws inherited from years and years of a bloody war on drugs. It is time to change our approach so that we do not remain on a bus that has already taken its way in the world.
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First published in Elespectador a third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.
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