The Colombian Senate started debating Wednesday a bill which would provide funding for the rehabilitation for drug addicts, regional newspaper Diario Del Huila reported Wednesday.
If passed, the bill would represent the first major government effort to view drug addiction as a disease in need of treatment instead of a crime.
The purpose of the bill “is not to force people to undergo rehabilitation but to give them the ability to do so,” said bill sponsor Senator Juan Carlos Velez.
The proposed bill would require police and government authorities to direct people arrested for drug consumption to government counseling centers where specialists would suggest a course of treatment.
“This rehabilitation process will never be in police stations but we can seek to create rehabilitation centers in various parts of the country,” said Velez.
In addition to covering rehabilitation, the bill also includes a budget for the development of prevention efforts and the monitoring of drug abuse.