Liberal senators Ricardo Lagos Weber and Fulvio Rossi officially proposed a piece of legislation to Chile’s National Congress on Wednesday that would decriminalize the cultivation of marijuana for personal and therapeutic use. The bill comes in the middle of a renewed debate in Chile over the legality of marijuana and two weeks after Rossi publicly stated that he personally consumed marijuana.
“It is important to understand that when you permit personal cultivation you are attacking illegal purchase and narcotrafficking,” Rossi said.
“Some have said that to approve a bill like this will make narcotraffickers very happy, and I tell them the opposite: ‘We are reducing their revenue,’” he added. “Specialists in these issues have said that the only way to hit organized crime and narcoterrorism where it hurts is from an economic standpoint.”
The bill’s introduction has already been met with heavy criticism from conservative politicians, such as Sen. Jaime Orpis from the far-right Independent Democratic Union Party (UDI), who said marijuana was a gateway drug.
“Objectively, we are dealing with a drug that causes a lot of damage,” Orpis said. “The big problem in Chile is the consumption not only of marijuana, but rather a series of drugs, with marijuana being a case of particular concern.”
Rossi, however, rejected the association of marijuana with other drugs.
“There is nothing that shows that it is a gateway for other drugs,” he said. “I would say the consumption of alcohol is more of a gateway to the destruction of lives than marijuana.”
The bill does not specify the exact quantity of marijuana that would qualify for legal possession, which will be determined during its debate in Congress.
The bill further suggests moving marijuana policy out of the Interior Ministry’s jurisdiction and instead handing the matter over to the Health Ministry so that it can be treated as a health issue rather than a law enforcement issue.
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