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Colombian Congress Moves to Legalize Medical Marijuana

By: PanAm Post Staff - Nov 12, 2014, 3:34 pm

EspañolColombia has taken the first step toward legalizing medical marijuana. On Tuesday, a Senate committee passed Senator Juan Manuel Galán’s medical marijuana bill by a vote of 13 to two. The bill, however, still requires another Senate committee debate before a full vote in the Senate can be taken.

A Colombian Senate committee has passed the country's first medical marijuana legislation.
A Colombian Senate committee has passed the country’s first medical marijuana legislation. (Prensa Senado)

“We present the bill now because there is a growing population in the country of chronically and terminally ill people for whom medical and therapeutic marijuana represents a better quality of life and a benefit,” Galán said. “There is a also general consensus throughout the world that prohibition has failed.”

“[The opposition] has introduced a false dilemma between outright legalization and prohibition. No one is capable of defining it in political or practical terms, that is the why we chose regulation that can be defined,” Galá explained. “We have already regulated tobacco, and we are going to regulate other substances just as the [rest of] world is doing.”

Senator Roy Barreras of the Social Party of National Unity brought a tray full of coca tea to share with his colleagues, suggesting coca is “stimulating, relaxing, and a pain reliever — not a drug.” Barreras vehemently defended the medical marijuana bill, even though he said he considers it “timid.”

During the session, Galán emphasized the therapeutic benefits of cannabis, explaining the positive impact marijuana can have on patients suffering from diabetes, epilepsy, cancer, anorexia, or AIDS, as it helps to alleviate pain, nausea, and lack of appetite.

Criminal drug gangs waged a violent internal conflict in Colombia throughout the 1980s and 90s. Despite recent progress, Colombia continues to be one of the most violent countries in the Americas, according to the Institute for Economics and Peace.

Senator Paloma Valencia of the Democratic Center Party warned that Colombia could suffer “trade embargoes” if this legislation passes. She also raised concerns over how the government aims to identify “illegal plantations from the legal ones.”

Sources: El Heraldo, Vanguardia.