The director of the Drug Policy Alliance on Tuesday praised Colombia’s decision to legalize personal possession of cocaine and marijuana, saying the decision is a part of a wider progressive tendency in Latin America.
In an article on news website The Huffington Post, Ethan Nadelmann, the director of the New York-based non-profit, said that Colombia and other countries in the region were becoming more independent in regard to drug policy, after decades of “being brutalized by the U.S. government’s failed prohibitionist drug policies.”
According to the decision by Colombia’s Constitutional Court Friday, any Colombian citizen can now carry and consume up to 20 grams of marijuana and up to one gram of cocaine without being detained or prosecuted.
Nadelmann wrote that the judicial ruling represented “yet another important step in the growing political and judicial movement in Latin America and Europe to stop treating people who consume drugs as criminals worthy of incarceration.”
Many countries in Latin America have moved towards allowing for greater pragmatism in drug policy, Nadelmann said, citing the example of Uruguay, which is currently drafting a proposal for the state-regulated sale and distribution of marijuana.
According to Nadelmann the United States is lagging far behind Latin America “in ending the criminalization of drug possession.” The author further claimed that while legalization was “a step in the right direction,” it did “not address many of the greater harms of prohibition, including high levels of crime, corruption and violence, empowerment of criminal organizations, massive black markets and the harmful health consequences of drugs produced in the absence of regulatory oversight.”