Colombia's Constitutional Court on June 28 approved a measure to decriminalize possession of personal quantities of cocaine and cannabis. Those caught with less than 22 grams of cannabis or one gram of cocaine for personal use may receive mandated treatment depending on their level of intoxication, but may not be prosecuted or detained, the court ruled.
The Supreme Court paved the way for the change when it ruled in 2011 that strict anti-drug laws introduced by the administration of Alvaro Uribe were unconstitutional. To fill the legislative void created by the court's ruling, the administration of current Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos introduced decriminilization as part of 2011's Citizen Security Law, or law 1453. The Constitutional Court was asked to review what quantities qualify as personal. Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon said the country's law enforcement would continue its fight against drug trafficking, but would not comment more on the ruling.
Law 1453 also included harsh measures, such as full prison sentences for minors, who were previously granted amnesty on their 21st birthday. (Colprensa, June 30, Colombia Reports, June 29; Caracol Radio, June 28; Colombia Reports, May 31, 2011)