Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos has ratified a law deeming drug addiction a public health issue rather than a crime, local media reported Tuesday.
The newly-enacted bill recognizes “the consumption and abuse of, or addiction to, psychoactive substances, legal or illegal, as a matter of public health and the well-being of family, community and individuals.”
According to Liberal Party Senator Juan Manuel Galan, Law 1566 recognizes drug addiction as an “illness” and “guarantees (…) treatment.”
With the new law in place, health insurance companies are obliged to cover the voluntary treatment of drug addicts. Until Tuesday, addicts could only obtain financial resources for treatment through legal action.
The legislation is part of several measures taken by the Santos administration to decriminalize drug use; In late June Congress passed a bill that decriminalized the possession of small doses of illegal substances like marijuana and cocaine.