Key points

  • The prohibitionist approach imposed on cannabis by the international drug control system still persists in nearly all of the Latin American and Caribbean countries examined. In almost all of them, possession falls under criminal law. Some countries’ legislation establishes thresholds below which cannabis possession should not be considered a crime. Only in Uruguay does the law include regulation of the entire chain.
  • Although cannabis organizations and other groups have managed to place the issue on the agenda, in most countries reforms are still pending or have been inadequate. The inclusion of relatives and users of cannabis for medicinal and therapeutic purposes has helped give impetus to the movement and to raise awareness among both political stakeholders and the public.
  • Many of the reforms under way do not recognize the need to regulate the recreational and cultural use of cannabis and run the risk of perpetuating the current consequences, with the persistent impact on health, security, institutionality and human rights that the prohibition of cannabis and the lack of state regulation allow and encourage.
  • The countries of Latin America and the Caribbean should prepare for future reform scenarios, instead of considering temporary measures that will perpetuate the same harmful consequences. Limiting reform solely to medicinal cannabis is only a partial, inadequate and temporary solution. If change is truly sought, it is necessary to move toward models of state regulation of cannabis for all purposes.

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