Colombia is considering legalizing its cocaine industry

Last modified on December 04, 2020
Police guard cocaine

Participants of the National Drug Regulate Directorate (DNCD) guard over 1,747 kg of cocaine from Colombia in Santo Domingo inside the Dominican Republic on November 1, 2020. Photo by ERIKA SANTELICES, AFP through Getty Photos

MEDELLÍN, Colombia - VICE World News sat down with Senator Iván Marulanda to talk about his cocaine legalization bill, which is in the intervening time engrossing through Colombia’s congress.

After 40 years of U.S. - backed anti-drug coverage that criminalizes the coca leaf, Marulanda and a group of people of congress are looking for to swap tack. 

The bill makes an attempt to have a upright industry that distributes cocaine to clients for effort reduction, now not leisure use. Like that in Bolivia, it additionally hopes to insist tons of of 1000's of illegal coca farmers out of the shadows correct right into a upright, homegrown industry.

VICE World News: So what does your bill suggest exactly?

Senator Iván Marulanda: It proposes that the voice make a choice the whole thing of Colombia’s coca harvest. 

There are 200,000 farmer households linked to coca rising. The voice would make a choice coca at market prices. The features for coca eradication yearly price 4 trillion pesos ($1 billion). Making an try to fetch the complete coca harvest yearly would price 2.6 trillion pesos ($680 million). It prices much less to make a choice the harvest than to abolish it. 

With that intervention from the federal authorities, two predominant points would occur. First, it is most likely you may insist 200,000 households correct right into a upright sphere the place they'd now not be persecuted by the voice. Most constantly, these farm households terminate up displacing themselves, deforesting collected areas, and re-planting coca whereas they’re operating from the authorities. second, Colombia is destroying spherical 300,000 hectares of woodland per Three hundred and sixty 5 days. It’s estimated that coca-rising households are accountable for 25 p.c of that annual deforestation. Colombia’s ecosystems are the collateral damage.

What would the federal authorities attain with the complete coca leaves? 

The voice would supply raw supplies to artisanal industries - primarily of indigenous basis - that may make meals, baking flour, medicinal merchandise and drinks admire tea. Those ancestral industries in Colombia haven’t had the prospect to invent on story of the raw subject subject is stigmatized and persecuted by the justice authorities. So, on one hand, it’s about creating these industries. Indigenous teams have a secure relationship with the leaf on story of they’ve taken care of it for tons of of years.

Now, the coca leaf has assorted properties too. Reports level to it has a critical quantity of calcium. There are dietary properties. And so there are alternate options to current an clarification for coronary heart's contents to industrial manufacturing. There are additionally strategies to obtain fertilizers.

The assorted half the voice would attain is make cocaine. It might presumably present that cocaine to clients. And then it will present coca and cocaine to research teams spherical the enviornment who might peep it for analgesic (effort-killing) makes use of. It hasn’t been straightforward to realize that on story of it hasn’t been straightforward for these examine teams to abolish cocaine. So, this might counsel corporations would enter into contracts with pharmaceutical corporations with voice-of-the-art work examine and excessive safety protocols to make a choice it in pure abolish from the voice. 

In Colombia, the personal consumption of cocaine is upright. It’s upright because of a courtroom docket ruling that acknowledges private consumption as a human swish. In Colombia we now have these freedoms and the voice can’t intervene. Nonetheless, what we don’t have is the upright cocaine to meet that connect a query to. In its connect, we now have shoppers who're in contact with organized crime teams who present them cocaine in native drug markets. It’s depressing prime quality cocaine and it’s often combined with unregulated substances. It’s far and intensive: in our faculties, in universities, in parks and bars. It’s in all these public areas. 

So this coverage would counsel reducing organized crime off from the coca leaf, and it will decrease shoppers off from organized crime. The Colombian voice would give pharmacies the licence to promote cocaine for leisure features to clients which might be thought to be bodily and mentally upright. In the case of crack shoppers and problematic cocaine shoppers, a wound discount strategy might be envisaged. And then it can presumably be high-high high quality cocaine. Every different indispensable half right here is that now not all shoppers are addicts. Not as much as 10 p.c of cocaine shoppers are addicts.

How profitable has Colombia’s battle on capsules been?

Colombia has a militia and police-driven drug coverage that dates again to the 1980s, when drug-trafficking was the complete weapon of the cartels. Colombia’s first response - and in addition the response of the worldwide group - was to inaugurate a battle on capsules. The battle on capsules is a law-and-expose coverage towards capsules that thinks of drugs as a prison offence. It’s additionally a persecution towards the coca plant, the leaves of that are inclined to make cocaine.

That coverage has now not modified for the reason that 1980s. In reality, Colombia’s drug coverage has easiest was further entrenched, further cussed and additional extreme in its utility. We’re now inside the Three hundred and sixty 5 days 2020. But Colombia exports 90 p.c of the cocaine on the earth on the current time. There are about 1,500 tonnes that proceed the nation yearly. And there are about 200,000 hectares of land under cultivation of coca. We’re inundated with cocaine and inundated with deaths and violence. We’ve misplaced sovereignty over Colombian territory to the dominion of organized prison mafias.

Over this era of 40 years, Colombia’s anti-drug coverage has was virtually admire a religion for two generations. Two generations that had been born and raised with this advance of capsules. But this coverage is now part of our tradition and dogma. But in 40 years, we haven’t had an correct, upright dialog about this coverage and its outcomes. It’s a coverage that’s been strengthened by the worldwide group and above the complete United States.

How would you decouple the cocaine commerce from prison organizations? 

You have gotten to endure in ideas the voice has a shipshape margin right here. The voice is spending $1 billion on eradication. Making an try to fetch coca leaves would price the voice $680 million. There’s a secure fiscal margin and so they can additionally simply push up the speed inside the occasion that they need to. And as quickly as you occur to want further, you’d should feed this blueprint with further public spending. However the indispensable half right here is to set lives.

The half is, we now should get higher management over the voice. We’re shedding management of the voice to corruption, narcos in politics. They’re in municipalities, in departments and in congress. The whole advance to the best possible echelons of presidency.


Colombian Senator Ivan Marulanda at his residence in Rionegro, Antioquia division, Colombia, on September 15, 2020. Photo by JOAQUIN SARMIENTO/AFP through Getty Photos

What attain you mediate the U.S. would deem a upright cocaine commerce in Colombia?

The U.S. has been a indispensable confederate for Colombia. 

We’ve been going 40 years with a coverage that prices billions of U.S. bucks with zero success and so appreciable price and destruction. Let’s confirm out this assorted coverage. On story of 1 factor that hasn’t labored inside the ultimate 40 years is one factor that’s lawful now not going to work.

The United States is lawful admire Colombia. We’re throwing away mountainous portions of cash on the battle on capsules inside the rubbish, quite than dedicating it to social and human development in expose to current a lift to peoples’ correctly being.

The subject for kinfolk between Colombia and the US might be very assorted [under President-elect] Biden. 

Does Colombia have the collected to realize what it needs with cocaine?

Here is the half. Anti-drug coverage doesn’t have the an identical finish for a rustic admire the US or a European rely

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