Cocaine has just been legalized in Colombia. Left-wing President Gustavo Petro has repealed legislation that criminalized carrying or possessing the drug for personal use. Colombians are now free to carry up to 1 gram of the drug without concern for legal consequences.
Mr. Petro’s predecessor, Iván Duque, enacted Decree 1844 in 2018 to allow the Colombian National Police to target small transactions in public spaces, and therefore disallow “personal doses.” It also allowed narcotics seizures and imposed fines and prison terms on offenders. President Petro said the repeal was necessary to adjust regulations and align them with Supreme Court decisions, but Mr. Petro is also known to hold radical views on cocaine, including the belief that it is less harmful than sugar.
A former member of the Marxist M19 guerilla group, Petro’s first speech to the United Nations as leader of Colombia included an apparent defense of cocaine and said efforts to wipe out its industry was damaging the Amazonian rainforest.
Petro described coca, the plant used to produce cocaine, as an Amazonian plant and a sacred plant of the ancient Incas. He added that the forests are at a “paradoxical crossroads” because they are similtaneously being saved and destroyed.
Throughout his election campaign, Petro repeatedly called for an end to his country’s oil industry and urged Colombia to travel down a new “green” path. Petroleum is one of Colombia’s top two exports (the other is coal) and brings billions of dollars into the country every year. At a rally in May, the former mayor of Bogotá said oil and coal were “poisons” and promised to stop all “oil exploration contraction” if elected.
Felipe Bayón, CEO of the state-run Ecopetrol SA oil company, said he will challenge Petro’s efforts to destroy the country’s major exports in the courts. “Even if allegedly he can come in and change everything, there will be challenges in the legal system not only from us but many people,” Bayón said.