Memorandum to the National Government on the new drug policy

22/9/2022

As academic and civil society organizations working on drug policy, we celebrate the spirit of reform the Government has expressed in this field. In this document, we present a series of recommendations aiming to save lives in Colombia, manage the risks related to psychoactive substances, and reduce the harm associated with the consumption and production of drugs, which we hope can contribute to and complement the Government’s proposals. The recommendations are based on time horizons, sector-specific priorities, and the legal and institutional possibilities required to implement the desired drug policy changes.

A coherent communication strategy for Colombia’s new drug policy is urgently needed. Therefore, we identify key actions for the first 100 days of government, the first 6 months, and the medium and long term. Our intention is to help organize these actions strategically. We will be in a transition period, and we must handle contradictions that may arise along the way. We prioritize reforms at the national level to position Colombia as an international benchmark on the path to a new drug policy. These are reforms that prioritize the rights of Colombians, and do not affect international relations.

The world is currently discussing new approaches to drug policy, which is why it is critical to raise awareness and educate Colombian society. This would help minimize the negative impacts of substances once reforms occur. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Truth Commission (CEV by its Spanish acronym), changing drug policy is a necessary step to achieve peace in Colombia. This is consistent with a growing academic literature that shows that prohibition has exacerbated Colombia’s internal armed conflict and enabled it to endure for decades.

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