Colombia is considering legalizing its cocaine industry

Police guard cocaine

Contributors of the National Drug Management Directorate (DNCD) guard over 1,747 kg of cocaine from Colombia in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic on November 1, 2020. Listing by ERIKA SANTELICES, AFP by contrivance of Getty Photography

MEDELLÍN, Colombia – VICE World News sat down with Senator Iván Marulanda to chat about his cocaine legalization invoice, which is currently transferring thru Colombia’s congress.

After 40 years of U.S. – backed anti-drug policy that criminalizes the coca leaf, Marulanda and a community of people of congress must commerce tack. 

The invoice makes an try to accumulate a marvelous industry that distributes cocaine to users for pain reduction, no longer recreational use. Fancy that in Bolivia, it furthermore hopes to bring heaps of of thousands of illegal coca farmers out of the shadows true into a marvelous, homegrown industry.

VICE World News: So what does your invoice propose exactly?

Senator Iván Marulanda: It proposes that the inform recall the whole lot of Colombia’s coca harvest. 

There are 200,000 farmer households linked to coca growing. The inform would recall coca at market prices. The capabilities for coca eradication each and each year label four trillion pesos ($1 billion). Buying the total coca harvest each and each year would label 2.6 trillion pesos ($680 million). It expenses much less to remove the harvest than to cancel it. 

With that intervention from the executive, two important issues would happen. First, that you simply would be in a position to bring 200,000 households true into a marvelous sphere where they would no longer be persecuted by the inform. Customarily, these farm households cease up displacing themselves, deforesting recent areas, and re-planting coca while they’re running from the authorities. 2d, Colombia is destroying around 300,000 hectares of forest per year. It’s estimated that coca-growing households are accountable for 25 p.c of that annual deforestation. Colombia’s ecosystems are the collateral pain.

What would the executive waste with the total coca leaves? 

The inform would provide raw materials to artisanal industries – basically of indigenous origin – that will scheme foods, baking flour, medicinal products and drinks fancy tea. Those ancestral industries in Colombia haven’t had the probability to assemble since the raw cloth is stigmatized and persecuted by the justice authorities. So, on one hand, it’s about organising these industries. Indigenous groups score a opt up relationship with the leaf because they’ve sorted it for heaps of of years.

Now, the coca leaf has other properties too. Experiences present it has a fundamental amount of calcium. There are nutritional properties. And so there are opportunities to provide an explanation for coronary heart’s contents to industrial production. There are furthermore suggestions to scheme fertilizers.

The replacement instruct the inform would waste is scheme cocaine. It could perchance maybe maybe provide that cocaine to users. After which it would provide coca and cocaine to analyze groups around the field who could well maybe gaze it for analgesic (pain-killing) makes use of. It hasn’t been easy to total that since it hasn’t been easy for these evaluate groups to scheme cocaine. So, this is in a position to imply companies would enter into contracts with pharmaceutical companies with inform of the art evaluate and top security protocols to remove it in pure scheme from the inform. 

In Colombia, the interior most consumption of cocaine is marvelous. It’s marvelous due to this of a courtroom ruling that acknowledges interior most consumption as a human qualified. In Colombia now we score got those freedoms and the inform can’t intervene. On the opposite hand, what we don’t score is the marvelous cocaine to meet that query. As a substitute, now we score got customers who are alive to with organized crime groups who provide them cocaine in local drug markets. It’s unfortunate constructive cocaine and it’s most frequently combined with unregulated substances. It’s in all places the put: in our faculties, in universities, in parks and bars. It’s in all these public areas. 

So this policy would imply cutting organized crime off from the coca leaf, and it would prick customers off from organized crime. The Colombian inform would give pharmacies the licence to promote cocaine for recreational applications to users which can maybe maybe be regarded as bodily and mentally marvelous. In the case of crack customers and problematic cocaine customers, a damage reduction approach would be envisaged. After which it would be top constructive cocaine. Any other fundamental instruct right here is that no longer all customers are addicts. Lower than 10 p.c of cocaine customers are addicts.

How a hit has Colombia’s warfare on treatment been?

Colombia has a protection pressure and police-driven drug policy that dates abet to the 1980s, when drug-trafficking used to be the extremely tremendous weapon of the cartels. Colombia’s first response – and furthermore the response of the global community – used to be to originate a warfare on treatment. The warfare on treatment is a law-and-checklist policy against treatment that thinks of apparatus as a criminal offence. It’s furthermore a persecution against the coca plant, the leaves of which can maybe maybe be passe to scheme cocaine.

That policy has no longer modified since the 1980s. In actual fact, Colombia’s drug policy has easiest change into more entrenched, more stubborn and more severe in its application. We’re now in the year 2020. But Colombia exports 90 p.c of the cocaine on this planet at the moment time. There are about 1,500 tonnes that bound away the nation each and each year. And there are about 200,000 hectares of land beneath 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 criminal mafias.

Over this period of 40 years, Colombia’s anti-drug policy has change into nearly fancy a faith for two generations. Two generations that had been born and raised with this approach of keen about treatment. But this policy is now part of our culture and dogma. But in 40 years, we haven’t had a actual, qualified conversation about this policy and its outcomes. It’s a policy that’s been bolstered by the global community and above the total United States.

How would you decouple the cocaine substitute from criminal organizations? 

You might want to maybe maybe must bear in mind the inform has a natty margin right here. The inform is spending $1 billion on eradication. Buying coca leaves would label the inform $680 million. There’s a opt up fiscal margin and they could well maybe push up the value if they must. And in case that you simply would be in a position to fancy more, you’d must feed this blueprint with more public spending. However the fundamental instruct right here is to assign lives.

The difficulty is, now we score got to increase alter over the inform. We’re shedding alter of the inform to corruption, narcos in politics. They’re in municipalities, in departments and in congress. The total formula to the supreme echelons of executive.


Colombian Senator Ivan Marulanda at his dwelling in Rionegro, Antioquia department, Colombia, on September 15, 2020. Listing by JOAQUIN SARMIENTO/AFP by contrivance of Getty Photography

What waste you watched the U.S. would factor in a marvelous cocaine substitute in Colombia?

The U.S. has been a extraordinarily fundamental partner for Colombia. 

We’ve been going 40 years with a policy that expenses billions of U.S. bucks with zero success and so great label and destruction. Let’s try this other policy. Because one thing that hasn’t worked in the closing 40 years is one thing that’s marvelous no longer going to work.

The United States is marvelous fancy Colombia. We’re throwing away colossal quantities of cash on the warfare on treatment in the rubbish, rather then dedicating it to social and human pattern in checklist to reinforce peoples’ properly being.

The scenario for relatives between Colombia and the United States will be very diversified [under President-elect] Biden. 

Does Colombia score the qualified to total what it wishes with cocaine?

That is the problem. Anti-drug policy doesn’t score the the same waste for a nation fancy the United States or a European nation because it does for Colombia. We’re the producers. Which approach this is destroying the lives of our youth, of our squaddies and police. The economy is utterly disfigured due to this of this substitute. And peep at the considerations of corruption. It’s brutal. Our most modern anti-policy is destroying Colombia.

There are countries in cohesion with Colombia on this instruct. Colombia has the total qualified on this planet to peep for an exit from this disaster. But I don’t rule out the possibility that other countries must put into effect a public properly being policy that will provide cocaine from the inform to their customers. They’d recall from the Colombian inform and distribute. And it would be disbursed out of doors of the blackmarket.

What are the supreme obstacles and threats to this invoice?

The important extensive obstacle is to launch up the conversation amongst public thought. This has been a astronomical taboo. Colombians are born and raised beneath this assumption that drug-trafficking is a warfare. There’s no info about coca and cocaine. So, with this invoice we hope to launch the conversation.

True now, there are a amount of parties that preserve vitality qualified now, and they’ve gained that vitality by promoting the warfare on treatment. It’s their political flag and it’s won them a total bunch votes. Those parties – the rulin

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