Lawmakers in Colombia have proposed decriminalizing cultivation of the coca leaf and cannabis to undercut the narco mafias. Proponents say the move would reduce prices and give peasants more incentive to grow other crops. The bill will be debated in the coming days by the lower house of Colombia's congress, the Chamber of Representatives. But Colombia's Justice Ministry says the move would violate Colombia's commitments to international narcotics treaties. "We have to be particularly prudent and particularly cautious," said Justice Minister Juan Carlos Esguerra.
The measure was proposed by Liberal Party Rep. Hugo Velásquez, and signed by seven other lawmakers. "We have to tell the United States and other consumers, Colombia has already paid enough, mostly in blood", said Velásquez, who represents the coca-growing department of Meta. "It hasn't worked. It's time to change the strategy." (BBC News, Terra Colombia, March 29)