Summary: The Senate of Colombia has rejected a proposed legislation to legalize adult-use cannabis in the country. The bill faced a setback during the plenary session on December 12, with a proposal to archive the bill receiving 45 positive votes. This decision continues Colombia’s prohibition policy on recreational cannabis, despite the legalization of medical cannabis and industrial hemp.
Setback for Cannabis Legalization in Colombia as Senate Votes Against Bill
The Colombian Senate, during a plenary session on December 12, voted against a proposed legislation aimed at legalizing adult-use cannabis. Senator Karina Espinosa from the Liberal Party submitted a proposal to archive the bill right before the formal debate, which received 45 positive votes. This decision marks another rejection of efforts to legalize recreational cannabis in Colombia.
Senator María José Pizarro, who spearheaded the project, criticized the senators who supported archiving the project. She accused them of enabling organized groups to profit and condemning youth and consumers to the influence of illicit traders and drug traffickers. Juan Carlos Losada, a representative for Bogotá from the Liberal Party and a sponsor of the proposal, expressed disappointment with the decision, citing misinformation and internal party dynamics as contributing factors.
In the days leading up to the vote, President Gustavo Petro’s administration issued an executive decree eliminating the $50 fine for possession of small quantities of drugs and prohibiting police from confiscating them. This move aligns with a broader decriminalization policy established by a Constitutional Court ruling.
Former president Álvaro Uribe, a consistent opponent of cannabis legalization, applauded the Senate’s decision. In contrast, President Petro appears more favorable towards cannabis legalization, as evidenced by his suggestion in September for a Latin American alliance to address drug trafficking as a public health issue.
This is not the first time the Senate has rejected attempts to legalize cannabis. In June, they voted against a move to legalize recreational cannabis. Currently, only medical cannabis and industrial hemp are legal in Colombia, legalized in 2016 and 2021, respectively. Laws from the 1980s and 1990s allow the possession and use of up to 20 grams of cannabis and the cultivation of up to 20 plants.
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