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Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos Backs Medicinal Marijuana

First Posted: Aug 15, 2014 03:01 PM EDT
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has supported legislation that would legalize marijuana for medicinal use.

Photo : Twitter/German_Vargas

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Thursday backed legislation that would legalize medicinal marijuana in his country with a long history of drugs, The Associated Press reported.

The bill that was introduced in July is "a practical, compassionate measure the reduce the pain (and) anxiety of patients with terminal illnesses, but also a way of beginning to strip from the hands of criminals the role of intermediary between the patient and the substance that allows them to relieve their suffering," Santos said at a drug-policy forum in Bogota.

Though this bill would expand Colombia's marijuana laws, the country is far from Draconian in that regard. Colombian law currently allows the possession of no more than 20 grams of pot for personal use.

The latest bill, introduced by Sen. Juan Manuel Galan, would be a way to put the distribution of medicinal marijuana in the hands of the government. If favorably received by Colombian lawmakers, the bill could pass as soon as next June.

Galan said that other Latin American countries, like Argentina, Brazil and Chile, are considering similar measures. Elsewhere in the Americas, Uruguay has legalized pot and Jamaica is looking at allowing it for medicinal and religious uses and decriminalizing possession of up to 2 ounces.

Colombia already had about 1.5 square miles of marijuana fields, according to Gen. Ricardo Restrepo, leader of Colombia's counter-drug police. He also said that a pound of pot costs around $230.

The South American country is more widely known for cocaine and is the world's No. 2 cocaine producer, behind Peru. Colombia was No. 1 until 2012.

Santos told the drug forum that another reason to look into progressive marijuana policies is the cost of the war on drugs, which is expensive in both currency and casualty, BBC reported.

"We have spent billions of dollars on an ineffective war that has claimed more than 60,000 lives in Mexico alone in the last six years," he said.

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