EL TIEMPO – CAMBALACHE
A Hallucinated Plan for Hallucinogenics
Daniel Samper Pizano
Forbidding possession for personal use by means of a constitutional amendment should achieve the opposite of what is intended.
is concerned due to the increasing use of illicit drugs in
personal use is the fruit of a philosophical and judicial act on the part of
government reestablishes prohibition and screws it into the Constitution itself
so that the
Then there is also the domestic experience. A Colombian law of 1955 decided to sentence marihuana smokers with 2 to 7 years imprisonment. Fifty-three people were sentenced in 1956 under this law. In 1963, far from having diminished, consumption had multiplied eleven fold. Apart from occasional and short reconsiderations, the spirit of prohibition prevailed up until 8 years ago, without there being a reduction in use of psychotropic substances. The right to personal possession did not reduce use either, naturally, but at least, the person smoking a joint is no longer sent to a crammed prison to be —for such an insignificant act— raped, taught criminal ways, and sent out afterwards with a criminal stigma.
This is what is
achieved by jailing those who consume drugs: a country of prisoners. The
Turning those who smoke weed into criminals by constitutional reform is not only a judicial aberration; it also makes them the target of imprisonment and police blackmail, without serving as a cure. This only adds to the workload of officials —already hard found to stop the dangerous criminals—, to prison overcrowding, and to the nation’s expenditures. Prison is for narcotics traffickers; prevention campaigns and education for consumers.
There are three
surprising aspects in this official proposal. First, the
degree of misinformation. At a time when many countries in the world
—even some States in the
The second aspect is the authoritarian attitude revealed by this “solution.” At the least obstacle, the government resorts to force. This is the same impulse that, at another level, prefers bullets over political dialogue. What do drug consumers have to add? To jail with them! One day adultery will be considered a crime against one’s family, and women who commit adultery will be put in prison. This is no joke: it was so for many years.
The third aspect is the fundamentalist roots of the proposal. The President is not content with a law that penalizes drugs: he wants to incorporate it into the 1991 Constitution, where it will be quite difficult to change. Londoño, a former Law professor would have advised, in his classes, against this nervous tic of incorporating in the Carta Magna one and all personal initiatives which the government considers interesting.
If we forbid personal consumption in an article of our Constitution, ¿why not use another to consecrate the importance of obeying traffic lights? It is well known that traffic violations cause more deaths than drug use.
Some day President Uribe and other government officials will understand that consumption will decline when it ceases to be an profitable temptation managed by the mafia. That is, when drugs are addressed much as alcohol is. No one would remotely consider nowadays the possibility of rehabilitating drinkers by putting them in prison, instead of resorting to AA.
Translated from Spanish by MM Moreno, Mama Coca
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