Uribe Wants to Recriminalize Drug Possession in Colombia 10/4/02

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Since 1994, the possession and use of illicit drugs has not been a crime in Colombia, but new hard-line President Alvaro Uribe wants to go back to the bad old days. Fresh from last week's visit to Washington, DC, where he met with President Bush and congressional drug warriors, Uribe announced Saturday that his government would move to recriminalize drug possession and would make it a priority in the constitutional reform package it will be presenting before the Colombian congress. Making drug use a criminal offense once again is necessary to prevent "the youth [from falling] to the horror of drugs," Uribe told a Bogota press conference.

"I am in favor of clarifying within constitutional norms that the congress can criminalize personal doses by statute," Uribe said. "I suggest that we apply that law and that the Minister of the Interior, Fernando Londono, introduce an article for the punishment of personal doses in the constitutional reforms that we are attempting to create with the legislators."

The Colombian Supreme Court ruled eight years ago that criminalizing personal possession or consumption of illicit drugs was an unconstitutional contravention of "human dignity, personal autonomy, and the free development of the personality." At that time, the court held that "the obligation of the state is to educate the population and move beyond repression as a method of controlling and reducing the use of drugs." In that ruling, the court defined a personal quantity as "a quantity of marijuana that does not exceed 20 grams; of hashish that does not exceed 5 grams; of cocaine or cocaine base that does not exceed one gram."

In announcing the effort to recriminalize drug possession, Uribe allied himself not only with Colombian conservative groupings such as the Colombian Institute of Family Wellness and drug war bureaucracies such as Colombia's equivalent of the drug czar's office, the National Drug Directorate, but also with the drug warriors of Washington. The move has provoked a strong reaction from some other sectors of the Colombian polity, including former Supreme Court justice Carlos Gaviria. Gaviria told Deutsche Presse Agentur that Uribe's plan only ratifies the fact that Colombia is now ruled by the "most conservative government in 50 years." And Gaviria pointed the finger of blame at Washington. "It is clear that this is one of the agreements that President Uribe reached in his recent visit to the White House," he said.

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Issue #257, 10/4/02 DEA to California Medical Marijuana Patients: Drop Dead | Federal Parole Bill Orphaned with Death of Sole Sponsor -- Activists, Prisoners Look to Other Bills, Other Sponsors | Canadian Government Announces Parliament to Consider Marijuana Decriminalization -- US Worries, Blusters | Widely Hyped Ecstasy Study Full of Holes, Critics Say | In Brazil, "Parallel Power" of the Narcos Flexes Muscle on Eve of Elections | Montana Drug Policy Task Force Calls for More Treatment and Prevention, War on Meth | The November Coalition Hits the Road: Journey for Justice Aims to Mobilize Support for Freeing Drug War Prisoners | Newsbrief: Peruvian Coca on Rise as Country Revamps Coca Eradication Effort | Uribe Wants to Recriminalize Drug Possession in Colombia | Newsbrief: California Governor Vetoes Bill Allowing Syringe Sales, Vetoed Industrial Hemp Study Earlier | Newsbrief: California Town to Pay $3 Million, Apologize for Drug Raid Death | Newsbrief: And the Killing Continues | Newsbrief: Nevada -- The Survey Says... Legalize It! | Newsbrief: University of Missouri SSDP, NORML in Marijuana Decriminalization Petition Drive | Newsbrief: US Explores Drugging Rioters | Newsbrief: Drug Warrior Maginnis Leaves Family Research Council | Newsbrief: DPA Campaign Provides Tools to Fight School Drug Testing | Calling on Students to Raise Your Voices for Repeal of the HEA Drug Provision | Do You Read The Week Online? | Action Alerts: Rave Bill, Medical Marijuana, Higher Education Act Drug Provision | The Reformer's Calendar

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