The Colombian House of Representatives Wednesday passed the first draft of a bill that seeks to legalize illicit crops.
The initiative calls for the decriminalization of growing plants such as coca, marijuana and opium poppies in the country.
Representative Hugo Velasquez Jaramillo, who proposed the bill, explained that although the cultivation of plants would be legal under the new legislation, the processing and trafficking of drugs would remain subject to criminal sentencing.
According to Velazquez, congress cannot move forward with the “failed drug policy pursued by the governments of Colombia and the United States.”
“The important thing is that we have the opportunity to listen to congressmen from [drug] producing regions and hear from different government officials, not just those in opposition [of the bill] with Minister of Justice Juan Carlos Esguerra,” he said.
Velazquez also reminded the government that drug crop legalization is an agricultural issue as well as a legal matter.
Minister of Justice Juan Carlos Esguerra reiterated that the government is staunchly opposed to the proposed legislation, saying this is a “turning point in the fight against drugs” and it is not yet time to make a policy change.
“It’s not the time to anticipate a set of rules on this issue (…) this cannot work like the Lone Ranger,” he added.