Colombia seeks the decriminalization of small coca farmers who produce much of the cocaine consumed abroad, reported newspaper El Tiempo on Thursday.
According to the newspaper, the government means to make the cultivation of up to 3.8 hectares a non-punishable offense in a bill sent to Congress.
The policy proposal would affect small farmers now caught between drug trafficking gangs and police.
The average coca farm in Colombia is no bigger than one hectare, according to the United Nations. More than 100,000 families were estimated to live off coca in 2016.
Industry-scale coca cultivation operated by drug trafficking groups would remain illegal.
The bill is a consequence of agreements made with the FARC in a peace deal in 2012, but has not yet been put before Congress.
The bill would be the latest change to drug laws that have become increasingly liberal under President Juan Manuel Santos, who has urged to rethink the War on Drugs since taking office in 2010.
Santos has already decriminalized possession of small quantities of drugs and declared drug abuse a public health, rather than a public order issue.
The peace process, that enjoys strong UN support, has also sought a more peaceful approach to coca growers.
Decriminalizing farming would allow law enforcement to focus on the criminal organizations and armed groups that also control illegal operations in another commodity, gold.
The new bill allows a small farmer to voluntarily report his crops, and be pardoned after a year if no coca has returned on the location.
The article came just two days after the DEA said Colombian coca cultivation would be up this year. US government officials have urged the use of violent forced eradication or the controversial aerial spraying of chemicals.
The United Nations has stressed that rural development and crop substitution are key to a successful counter-narcotics policy.
A former negotiator on drug policy in peace talks with the FARC told El Tiempo that the timing of the policy could be wrong as it was signed in 2012 when only half the number of families depended on coca.
The outlook on aid spurred many poor farmers to take up coca cultivation, allegedly endorsed by the FARC.
A measure that was positive and justified four years ago today reinforces the expectation of impunity and good business.
Former government negotiator Alvaro Balcazar
According to the International Crisis Group, the government’s crop substitution program has already run out of money after no more than six months.
The NGO advised foreign governments to begin investing in the program.
Forced eradication has proven extremely violent as it involves law enforcement, peasants and violent drug trafficking groups.
At least seven farmers died in a protest when police opened fire on the crowd earlier this month.
Illegal armed groups have assassinated community leaders promoting the government program.