On November 25, the Constitutional Commission of the Colombian Senate voted for a law (Law 189 of 2020 or PL 189-20) that would legalize the recreational use of cannabis in Colombia. The measure will then be presented to the entire Senate and, if approved, will be submitted to the House of Representatives for consideration by that body.
The proposed law “proposes the creation of a Colombian Institute for the Regulation of Cannabis, responsible for regulating the entire process of recreational cannabis from cultivation to distribution and consumption.” While it would ultimately be up to the regulator to determine whether cannabis imports are allowed, the proposed law provides for that option. In particular, Article 22 (3) provides that the packaging of imported products must contain the country of origin and the expression imported into Colombia.
According to the provisions of PL 189-20, the advertising of cannabis products would be strictly limited. The imposition of a tax on cannabis would also be necessary, but “to avoid incentives for consumers to turn to the illegal market”, under Article 27 of the proposed measure.
Much of the impetus for the bill comes from a desire to deprive criminal organizations of the benefits of the cannabis economy. According to the author of PL 189-20, Senator Gustavo Bolívar, the drug trafficking “has been a panacea for all our violence for the last 30 or 40 years” and its profits were used to fund guerrilla groups, paramilitaries, to help the “Bacrim” finance “”.
One of the measure’s defenders, Senator Luis Fernando Velasco, cited the United States’ experience in defending the project. “While they regulated consumption and generated tax revenue in the US, we sent the authorities here to fight the farmers,” warned Velasco. “People will continue to use cannabis and with regularization we will end the mafias.” While this analysis ignores the fact that cannabis is still nationwide listed as a drug and illegal in many states, it suggests that its northern neighbor is becoming a role model for proponents of cannabis legalization in America. Latin.
PL 189-20 echoes some of the concerns of fellow lawmakers in the United States and puts emphasis on social justice considerations. The law requires 35% of cannabis licenses to be given to small producers who belong to at least two of the categories listed in Article 36, including ethnic groups, female heads of household and victims of armed conflict. Based on the invitation in the US Farm Bill from 2018 to Indian tribes to submit proposals for the development of the hemp industry in their territory, PL 189-20 states that indigenous communities “should have the capacity and the capacity for regulatory autonomy Growing, producing, storing, transforming, marketing and using cannabis and its derivatives for adults. “
Just a few weeks ago, on November 3rd of this year, the House of Representatives rejected a similar proposal that we discussed in Through It Comes Cannabis: Colombia and Mexico. However, it is believed that the current bill has a better chance of passing. The defeated measure was intended to reform the Colombian constitution, while PL 189-20 is only intended to create a legal framework for cannabis. Its defenders “claim that there is no absolute ban on recreational drug use in Colombia, so there is no need to change the constitution.”
We’ll leave it up to Colombian Steve Kornacki to discuss whether cannabis advocates in the House have a chance to overcome the defeat of the previous bill between 102 and 52. Regardless of how things go, it is encouraging to see the relentless legalization efforts of the Colombian legislature. Public opinion on cannabis is constantly evolving, and proponents of legalization should be ready to benefit from a favorable tide. In addition, the legislative debate provides an unbeatable platform to allay cannabis concerns and highlight the opportunities that may arise for a Colombian economy in dire need of help.