A bill seeking to decriminalize the cultivation of illegal crops in Colombia was debated again by Colombia’s Congress on Tuesday.
If passed, the bill authored by Liberal Party representative Hugo Velazquez, could annul article 375 of the Colombian penal code which punishes the cultivation of illegal crops with lengthy prison sentences and hefty fines.
The projected bill, which was approved by the first committee of the house in March and later by a Senate committee, is on the agenda to be debated by the House.
“We have to tell the United States and other consumers, Colombia has already paid enough, mostly in blood,” said Velazquez, a representative of the coca-growing Meta department in central Colombia.
The government in Bogota, however has signalled its opposition to the law, and commentators have said it is unlikely to be passed.
According to the congressman the decriminilization of cultivation of illegal crops will contribute to the reduction of drug-trafficking because it will flood the market with cocaine and lower the price of the raw product thus encouraging farmers to grow different crops.
This will also act as a first step in the debate of whether Colombia could be a country that legally produces drugs, “a debate that needs to be addressed without reservations given the social impact and the human and economic costs for Colombia,” wrote Velazquez in the bill.
In his blog, the congressman stressed the need to “distinguish between the crop grower and other components” as the growers are generally impoverished farmers.
According to Velasquez the real crimes occur after the natural plant has been manipulated – the “drug-trafficking, corruption of officials, violence and crime, the consumption and sum of all human miseries – addicts who become human scraps resulting in societies that gradually decompose.”