Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos‘ comments on drug legalization have divided the country’s politicians.
His assertion that legalizing drugs would be “acceptable for Colombia,” made during a discussion at the Hay literature and arts festival in Cartagena Sunday, was backed by U Party Senator and Peace Commission President Roy Barreras.
Barreras said legalization would “bring the price to zero” and “put an end to drug trafficking.”
Colombia and Mexico were suffering the tragic consequences of the illegal drug trade, said the congressman, while the “first world hypocritically keeps generating the demand for marijuana and cocaine and maintaining prohibition, which raises the prices and creates the mafias. Prohibition is the crime.”
House Representative German Varon, co-director of the Radical Change party, agreed with Barreras that legalization would be the best way to put drug traffickers out of business.
Varon said legalization would lower prices and make drug trafficking a much less attractive enterprise. “High profit margins and prohibition is what creates these [criminal] groups,” he said.
U Party Senator Juan Carlos disagreed. He said legalization would increase demand, leading to “more problems of addiction, more youth problems, more violence and more insecurity.”
Legalization would indeed lead to higher consumption, said Conservative Party Senator Fernando Tamayo, which is why children and young people must be taught about the dangers of drugs.
“All our experience shows us that we put all the strength we have into efforts to prevent children and young people having access to drugs,” said Tamayo.