Friday, June 29, 2012

Colombia court: Personal drug use is not a crime

By Stephen C. Webster
Friday, June 29, 2012 15:17 EDT

The Constitutional Court of Colombia approved a plan that will drop all criminal penalties for individuals caught with small amounts of marijuana or cocaine, according to Spanish-language media reports.
Scene from a Honolulu Police training video

That means anyone caught with less than 22 grams of marijuana, or one gram of cocaine, will no longer be subject to arrest or prosecution. People who are caught intoxicated in public can only be sent to receive medical or psychological treatment for their impairment.
The proposal, first introduced last year by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, is intended to refocus law enforcement resources on drug-runners and cartels and away from individual users.
“Today’s judicial ruling in Colombia represents yet another important step in the growing political and judicial movement in Latin America and Europe to stop treating people who consume drugs as criminals worthy of incarceration,” Ethan Nadalmann, who heads the U.S.-based Drug Policy Alliance, said in prepared text.
“The Colombian Constitutional Court’s decision is obviously most important in Colombia, where it represents both a powerful repudiation of [the former president's] push to criminalize people who use drugs and a victory for President Juan Manuel Santos’s call for a new direction in drug policy,” he added.
The measure is just one of a number of drug war reforms Colombia’s current regime has pursued.

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