“It is time to accept that the war on drugs has been a complete failure,” acting Colombian President Gustavo Petro announced during his inauguration festivities in early August, referring to a bill his administration recently presented to Congress to legalize recreational marijuana.
As previously mentioned , Colombian regulation already allows the production of cannabis for medical purposes, mostly to be exported to foreign markets like the United States and Canada. Still, supporters of the new legislation believe that merely legalizing recreational cannabis could push thousands of farmers away from drug trafficking and into the legal trade. Still to this day, the Colombian state faces challenges over control of its territory by former left-wing guerrillas and paramilitaries to narco-cartels and organized crime syndicates. Drug trafficking is a powerful source of revenue for these outlaws, and over the past 50 years, public authorities have pushed a prohibitionist agenda, banning the trade and consumption of drugs in order to deal an economic blow to criminals . But the stream of illegal drugs has remained steady.
“We will never achieve peace in Colombia until we regulate drug trafficking,” said Senator Gustavo Bolivar, a close ally of acting president Petro, “Not even the United States, with all their might and money, could win the war on drugs… Right now, Colombia produces more drugs than when Pablo Escobar was alive, there are more consumers and more farmers. The drug trade is growing despite the money we invest in fighting it, and the thousands of deaths we suffer”.