Legalization of Marijuana in Colombia: A New Drug Strategy

Colombia is on the verge of legalizing marijuana for adult use, which will bring a significant shift in the country’s drug policy. The bill has passed through a committee of the Chamber of Representatives and now needs to clear eight total checks in the Colombian Congress over two consecutive years to become law. The legalization of marijuana is expected to pave the way for a new drug strategy based on public health principles, prevention of consumption, and user attention.

The Need for a New Drug Strategy

The current approach of prohibitionism towards drug use has failed to deliver desired outcomes, and it’s time to move towards a new drug strategy. According to Rep. Juan Carlos Losada of the Liberal Party, the bill’s sponsor, legalization of cannabis is one of the most significant and contentious conversations in recent memory. The new drug strategy is expected to promote public health principles, prevent drug consumption, and ensure user attention. Abandoning prohibitionism is also expected to curb conflicts and violence that are fueled by money earned illegally.

The Bill’s Provisions

The bill allows citizens to choose whether to consume cannabis within the bounds of the law, supporting the right to the free development of the personality. The law also aims to lessen arbitrary discrimination and unfair treatment in front of the consumer community. The bill mandates the promotion of services for treating substance abuse and public education campaigns.

The bill prohibits the use and possession of unlicensed psychoactive substances without a prescription. Additionally, the sale and use of marijuana near schools and public areas will not be allowed. A recent amendment to the bill deals with the effective date, stating that the law becomes operative 12 months after it is put into operation.

Reform Movements in Other Nations

Mexico and the United States are moving towards legalizing marijuana, which has led to changes in Colombia’s drug policy. Colombia’s history of cannabis policy is covered in a legislative analysis, which provides a context for the ongoing reform movements in other countries.

President Petro’s Advocacy for Cannabis Legalization

President Gustavo Petro has been a vocal supporter of cannabis legalization since his inauguration in August. He believes in ending drug criminalization on a global scale and suggests legalizing marijuana in Colombia to lessen the impact of the black market. He has also suggested releasing those who are currently imprisoned for cannabis use to implement the policy reform. He believes that a legal cannabis economy can benefit small villages in regions like the Andes, Corinto, and Miranda, without the need for a license. The president has expressed openness to studying the prospect of exporting cannabis to nations where it is permitted.

Failed War on Drugs and the Need for Change

The government’s aggressive approach to drug enforcement has worsened the ongoing conflict between guerrilla fighters, narco-paramilitary organizations, and drug cartels. Justice Minister Nestor Osuna stated that Colombia has been the victim of a failed war that was planned 50 years ago and that it has brought us a lot of blood, armed conflict, mafias, and crime as a result of foolish prohibitionism. Colombian senators sponsored a bill in 2020 to regulate coca, the plant that is processed to produce cocaine. The initiative failed, but supporters hope to see it move forward under the Petro administration.


The legalization of marijuana in Colombia is expected to bring significant changes to the country’s drug policy. The new drug strategy is based on public health principles, prevention of consumption, and user attention, and will pave the way for positive change. What are your thoughts on the legalization of marijuana in Colombia? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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