The bill would have expanded cannabis legalization already in place in the country.
On Tuesday, June 20, 2023, the Colombian Senate voted to reject a constitutional reform bill that would have legalized the sale of recreational cannabis in the country (1). Since 1986 the possession of up to 20 grams and of growing up to 20 plants for personal use has been legal, and in 2016 some cannabis products have been legal for medical sale and uses (1,2).
Opponents of the bill said its defeat protects children and families, while supporters said the bill would protect consumers from interacting with criminals (3). The bill would have banned the sale and consumption of cannabis in some public areas, including universities, and promoted substance abuse treatment (2).
“I don’t consider this a defeat; we have taken a giant step, four years of putting such a controversial issue at the top of the public agenda, of the public debate,” Liberal Party Senator Juan Carlos Losada said (1).
Approval of the bill fell short by seven votes, and Losada stated that the bill would be introduced again in the next legislative session (1).
“Continuing to leave a substance that is legal in the hands of the drug traffickers and drug dealers is detrimental to the children of Colombia and detrimental to the country’s democracy,” he added (1).
Uruguay is currently the only Latin American country that allows the sale of recreational cannabis (1).