Colombia, the land of coffee, arepas, Shakira, and Sophia Vergara. But among its many varied and vibrant exports and claims to fame, Colombia, thanks partly to shows like Narcos, is more often than not known for drugs, cartels, and the associated violence intrinsic in them.
Unfortunately, the stereotype of Colombia being a haven for drug cartels is rooted in history. Still, thanks to reforms instituted by the Colombian government, Colombia is poised to lead South America into the future when it comes to narcotics policies.
A History Of Violence
Drugs and the cartels that run their manufacture and distribution in Colombia have always held massive political sway. A great example is the Medellin Cartel, run by one Mr. Pablo Escobar. He even tried running for government at a stage. Thankfully, his bid was unsuccessful.
Political figures opposing drug trafficking and enforcing the extradition treaties for apprehended cartel members effectively had targets painted on their backs. One such example is Luis Carlos Galán, a liberal politician and journalist assassinated on August 18th, 1989, while running for President of Colombia. Although unsubstantiated, his killing was most likely due to his extremely vocal stance against the drug cartels.
His political legacy was carried on by his son Juan Manuel Galán Pachón on his return to Colombia. As a member of the Liberal Party, he served as a Senator in Colombia. And he is currently a candidate for the presidency.
The Next Generation
The younger Galán is a strong proponent of drug policy reform and an outspoken advocate for drug legalization. He has openly called for a public discussion on the topics of decriminalization and legalization across the board. Most notably, he is the author of Law 1566 of 2012, which designated psychoactive drug use, abuse, and addiction as a public health concern to be treated as an illness. This law effectively encompasses drug treatment within the already existing publicly funded healthcare system.
He is considered to be Colombia’s author of the law that legalized medical cannabis. He has been a critical person in Colombia’s progressive cannabis legalization plan in various ways.
The Colombian Drug Policy Reform And Cannabis
We have already mentioned Law 1566 as one of the steps taken by the Colombian government in reforming its policies on drugs. Now, where does cannabis come into it? Colombia began its journey toward cannabis legalization in the 1980s and currently has one of the world’s most advanced cannabis regulation systems.
Following Uruguay becoming the first country in the world to decriminalize the recreational use and possession of cannabis in 2012, Colombia’s government decriminalized the possession of up to twenty grams of cannabis in the same year. They then announced in 2015 that the production of up to twenty cannabis plants was legal.
The growth of these policies through legislation and court actions shows that Colombian politicians are paving the way forward in cannabis regulations for South America.
Colombia And The Global Cannabis Market
The decision to decriminalize recreational cannabis use was made in part to replace ties between drug cartels and the cannabis trade with more transparent government oversight.
Later in 2012, voters in Washington and Colorado became the first in the United States to embrace the drug’s recreational use legalization. These were the initial moves toward establishing a globally regulated cannabis market in which Colombia will be playing an active role.
Now, that’s not the end of this stunning underdog story. Stay tuned to Bread Bros for Part II, which will reveal what drove Colombia into the global cannabis market.
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