In Colombia, the recreational use of cannabis is currently prohibited, although possession of a minimal amount is allowed, as established by the Constitutional Court. The issue of legalizing cannabis for recreational use was a source of controversy during the administration of Gustavo Petro, even reaching a bill that was rejected in Congress towards the end of the first legislature. However, the issue is still under discussion.
What the ministers say
Interior Minister Luis Fernando Velasco addressed the issue in an interview with Yamid Amat for EL TIEMPO, arguing that cannabis "must be legal and contribute to the generation of wealth".
The minister also highlighted the potential of this market, not only for Colombia but for the whole world. Regarding consumption and regulation, he explained that the legalization of cannabis does not usually lead to an increase in excessive consumption, citing examples from countries that support this assertion. He mentioned that in Portugal, where marijuana and other drugs were legalized some time ago, consumption has decreased thanks to stricter regulation. He also stressed that regulation reduces overdose deaths.
Velasco also pointed out the paradox of being allowed to carry a minimum dose of cannabis, while its purchase remains illegal, which he said benefits the black market due to the lack of regulation. He explained how regulation can reduce the violence associated with the marijuana trade.
The Minister also presented examples of the cannabis market in the United States, particularly in the states of Colorado and California, where the industry is effectively regulated.
The Minister of the Interior expressed his confidence that the legalization of recreational cannabis in Colombia is only a matter of time and reiterated his commitment to this change. He said he hoped that next year a legislative reform could be carried out that would allow the regulation of recreational cannabis, turning this controversy into a source of income for Colombian farmers and using the taxes collected to treat people affected by more dangerous drugs than cannabis.
He added: "(...) of course taxes will be applied. The revenue generated will be used for the treatment of people affected by other more dangerous drugs. I don't drink a lot of alcohol and I've never tried marijuana, but I know that alcohol causes more harm than cannabis".