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Colombia Is Considering Legislation To Legalise The Cocaine Industry

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Colombia Is Considering Legislation To Legalise The Cocaine Industry

Colombia is considering passing a bill that would legalise its infamous cocaine industry.

It's no surprise that the South American nation is reconsidering its long and bloody relationship with the drug, but the hope is that this proposed legislation could see the government become responsible for its distribution.

Those behind the cause hope that it will at least spark a conversation with regards to the future of cocaine in Colombia.

It's been put forward by Senators Iván Marulanda and Feliciano Valencia, who argue that bringing the industry into state control could help ease the pressure on the public purse created by illegal trafficking, and change the country's association with cocaine for the better.

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Cocaine seized by the Colombian military. Credit: PA
Cocaine seized by the Colombian military. Credit: PA

Speaking in a recent interview with Vice, Marulanda said that the bill 'proposes that the state buy the entirety of Colombia's coca harvest'.

In theory, the state could buy the entire coca harvest from the 200,000 farmers that grow it now, meaning that their work would be legalised, helping them to work with authorities and cause less damage to the environment through deforestation.

Coca farming is thought to be responsible for the deforestation of 75,000 hectares.

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Basically, they reckon that the cost of eradicating the coca harvest costs about $1 billion (£740 million) per year, whereas the whole harvest would only cost $680m (£505m) to buy - a significant saving.

Cocaine is a product of the coca plant. Credit: PA
Cocaine is a product of the coca plant. Credit: PA

Marulanda continued: "There's a strong fiscal margin and they could push up the price if they need to. And if you need more, you'd have to feed the program with more public spending. But the important thing here is to save lives.

"The thing is, we have to recover control over the state. We're losing control of the state to corruption, narcos in politics. They're in municipalities, in departments and in congress. All the way to the highest echelons of government."

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That saved money could then be used to prop up other uses for coca plants which are overlooked due to the current criminal connotations of the raw material.

For example, the state could distribute cocaine to users and researchers to study using it for pain relief, rather than partying.

Senator Marulanda explained: "In Colombia, the personal consumption of cocaine is legal. It's legal because of a court ruling that recognises personal consumption as a human right... however, what we don't have is the legal cocaine to meet that demand.

"Instead, we have consumers who are in contact with organised crime groups who supply them cocaine in local drug markets. It's poor quality cocaine and it's often mixed with unregulated substances. It's everywhere: in our schools, in universities, in parks and bars. It's in all these public spaces."

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A large amount of public money is spent dealing with the illegal cocaine industry. Credit: PA
A large amount of public money is spent dealing with the illegal cocaine industry. Credit: PA

The proposals would also save money on police and military efforts to crack down on the illegal production and sale of the drugs.

Marulanda continued: "Colombia's drug policy has only become more entrenched, more stubborn and more severe in its application... we're now in the year 2020. Yet Colombia exports 90% of the cocaine in the world today... we've lost sovereignty over Colombian territory to the dominion of organised criminal mafias."

He concluded: "The first big obstacle is to open up the conversation among public opinion. This has been a giant taboo. Colombians are born and raised under this assumption that drug-trafficking is a war. There's no information about coca and cocaine. So, with this bill we hope to open the conversation."

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It's still a long shot, but the conversation has started, and that could be beneficial in the grand scheme of things.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: World News, south america, Interesting, Cocaine, crime, Drugs

Tom Wood
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