Drug Law Reform on the Map
Drug Legislative Reforms in Latin America
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In Peru, coca leaf consumption has never been criminalized and a state-controlled licensing system exists for its cultivation and distribution.
With regard to other drugs, in 1982, Decree 122 established that dependent users shall no longer be punished for possession of drugs for immediate personal consumption,
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On August, 25, 2009, Argentina’s Supreme Court ruled that applying sentences for possession of amounts of marijuana for personal use is unconstitutional.
Although the Court Order does not specifically reference other substances, it opens the judicial door to drug law reform in Argentina, as the arguments are applicable to other drugs. A bill to decriminalize the possession of a...
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Chile: Seeking Decriminalization
The adoption in 2007 of Law 20.000 formally decriminalized the possession of drugs for immediate individual use in the private sphere. Drug use or possession in public places is an infraction, punishable with fines, forced treatment, community services and/or suspension of driving licenses.
The same penalties apply to “persons who consume such drugs in private places if they have...
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Uruguay is one of the few countries that never criminalized the possession of drugs for personal use. Since 1974, the law establishes no quantity limits, leaving it to the judge’s discretion to determine whether the intent was personal use. There are no sanctions at all once it is determined by the judge that the amount in possession was meant for personal use.
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Brazil: Decriminalization Pending
Brazil went through legislative changes in 2002 and 2006, resulting in a partial decriminalization of possession for personal use. Prison sentences no longer apply and were replaced by educational measures and community services.
The Ministry of Justice and members of Congress are preparing various proposals to reform the current drug law. These are expected to include total decrim...
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Bolivia: Seeking Decriminalization
Bolivian Law 1008 is very repressive toward drug use, possession and small-scale trafficking. To date, not much has been done to open the discussion toward a more humane legislative framework for drug control.
The current law prohibits drug use and punishes possession for personal use with internment and forced treatment. Domestically, a legal market for coca leaf has always existe...
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Ecuador: Decriminalization Pending
In 2008, Ecuador’s Special Assembly (Asamblea Constituyente) approved an amnesty for drug couriers imprisoned for carrying less than 2 kilos and who had spent more than a year in prison.
A new Constitution approved by referendum in September 2008 states about drug users the following: “Under no circumstance shall they be criminalized nor their constitutional rights violated.”...
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Colombia: Re-Criminalization Pending
In 1994, the Colombian Constitutional Court declared unconstitutional the punishment for possession of amounts for personal use. Since then, adults can possess up to 20 grams of marijuana and one gram of cocaine, among other substances, for consumption in the privacy of their homes without fear of any penal sanctions.
In July 2009, the Supreme Court overruled an October 2008 senten...
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Venezuela: Partial Decriminalization
In 1993, Venezuela replaced prison sentences with ‘social security measures’ for possession of up to 2 grams of cocaine and 20 grams of cannabis. Possession for personal use is punished with referral to treatment, which can still lead to obligatory internment in specialized centers.
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In Paraguay, a new drug law in 1988 exempted from punishment those in possession of a maximum of 2 grams of cocaine or heroin and 10 grams of marijuana for personal consumption.
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In Mexico the ‘Narcomenudeo decree’ came into effect in August 2009, removing any sanctions for quantities for personal use: 5gr cannabis, 2gr opium, 0.5gr cocaine, 50 mgr heroin or 40 mgr of methamphetamine. Addicts enter mandatory treatment only after the third arrest.
The law strictly defines personal dosage and establishes very low amount thresholds. Therefore, this can res...
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