Colombia Bid Could Legalize Cocaine

April 2, 2012 Updated: October 1, 2015
Colombian anti-narcotics police
Colombian anti-narcotics police seize packages containing some 5 tons of cocaine from an illegal laboratory October 13, 2011. (Guillerm Legaria/AFP/Getty Images)
Legislators in Colombia have proposed to legalize marijuana and cocaine to drive down market prices, according to the BBC.

The move would deprive drug traffickers and cartels of money because it would give farmers more incentive to grow other crops that would be more profitable, the report says. The law would also lessen penalties on growers.

The measure is being debated in Colombia’s Lower House of Congress. The Colombian justice ministry said, however, that decriminalizing the crops would violate international narcotics treaties. 

“We have to be particularly prudent and careful,” Justice Minister Juan Carlos Esguerra told Reuters.

Liberal Party Congressman Hugo Velasquez, who introduced the bill, said, “We have to tell the United States and other consumers, Colombia has already paid enough, mostly in blood. It hasn’t worked. It’s time to change the strategy.”

Velasquez said the bill would test to “see how well the laws of the market work.”

“If there’s excessive production due to the lack of criminal penalties surely the market will depress the price,” he added.

Colombia, like neighboring Bolivia and Peru, has faced widespread drug trafficking violence in recent years.