Bogotá — Colombia has once again closed the doors on a possible legalization of cannabis for recreational use among adults, as well as the potential to create a multi-million-dollar market and wrest the business from illegal gangs, with a bill for legalization having been shot down in Congress.
The bill failed to pass the eighth debate stage, with 47 votes in favor and 43 against in the Senate, but needed 54 votes in favor to be adopted as legislation.
This was the fourth attempt to legalize cannabis consumption in five years.
“We are sad, but we are convinced that we gave everything right untilthe end, Juan Carlos Losada, the lawmaker who proposed the bill, said in a tweet. “We never imagined we’d get this far. We have been fighting for four years and we will not faint in our attempt to write a new history in the fight against drugs. Thanks!” he added.
He also posted a video on Twitter, which can be seen here (in Spanish):
For her part, Senator María José Pizarro Rodríguez, also a supporter of the bill, said: “We did everything possible to guarantee freedoms, to overcome the legal chaos of decades, we wanted to take lives and resources away from illegality. We wanted a daily life free of mafias and violence for the communities, youth and women”.
“Throughout the whole process for the regularization of cannabis for adult use, we gave a reasoned debate with proposals, without fanaticism or lies. We lost very narrowly, but we are certain that we will be more and more”, she added.
And in opposition to the bill, Senator María Fernanda Cabal celebrated the result on Twitter. “Good for Colombia that it will not legalize a drug that destroys households and lives,” she tweeted.
Colombia has around 1.5 million cannabis users, according to New Frontier Data.
Countries such as Canada and several US states have regulations that allow cannabis use.
In 2001, Portugal implemented a law decriminalizing the use of all drugs, including cannabis.
In Latin America, several steps have been taken towards the legalization of adult use of cannabis.
In Uruguay, adult recreational use of cannabis has been legal since 2013, marking the path for more governments to make that decision.
In Mexico, the Supreme Court of Justice declared in 2021 as unconstitutional the prohibition of cannabis use for recreational purposes, included in the General Health Law.