Colombian Cannabis Legalization Ahead

Colombian legalization of adult-use cannabis is on track, following the Chamber of Representatives’ overwhelming vote of support for a bill introduced by a multiparty group led by Liberal Party deputy Juan Carlos Losada.

Back in June we held out some cautious optimism regarding Colombian legalization prospects, following the election of Gustavo Petro as president. As we noted in Petro: Colombia’s Next President and Cannabis, the time appeared “ripe for bold moves that could firm up Colombia’s role as the leader of the Latin American cannabis industry.”

Recent events suggest that our hopes were well-placed. While the bill is not President Petro’s initiative, the elections that brought him to power also made the Colombian legislature more cannabis-friendly (the Liberals are members of President Petro’s legislative coalition). Moreover, the bill has been favorably received within the Executive, with two cabinet ministers speaking in support prior to the Chamber of Representatives’ vote. Not long ago, President Petro himself decried the “irrational war on drugs” during his address to the United Nations General Assembly.

The vote is even more meaningful that might seem at first glance. In the last five years, the Colombian Congress has voted on several legalization cannabis initiatives, but this is the first time that a proposal clears a plenary vote.

There is still a long road ahead before the bill can become law. As the measure calls for changes to Colombian Constitution (Article 49 of which currently prohibits the use of narcotic or psychotropic substances), it must clear no less than eight legislative votes in total. But with the government enjoying a majority in the Senate (as it does in the Chamber of Representatives), it is expected that the bill will eventually find its way to President Petro’s desk, with all indications being that he would sign it.

For now, is there a Colombian equivalent of C-SPAN?