Yesterday, Senator Aníbal Fernández presented a bill to Congress to decriminalise the possession of drugs for personal consumption.
In a press conference held by the Senate, the former minister and chief of staff to President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner stated that the aim is “not to be stigmatise or persecute those who consume, but go after the distributor.”
“The result of the War on Drugs proposed by Richard Nixon is a failure. The Arriola ruling marks the way forward. We therefore propose to decriminalise possession of small amount when it is for personal use and will not affect others. But, when the amount exceeds the personal consumption we will impose penalties equal to manslaughter,” said Fernández, as reported in Clarín.
The Arriola ruling referred by Fernández, decrees that the penalisation of possession of drugs for personal consumption infringes on personal privacy.
The new bill states that the cultivation of small amounts of marijuana for personal consumption would also be permitted.
The bill does not address what level of drugs will be permissible for personal consumption, an issue that will be decided by a judge according to the case. Some supporters have voiced reservations on this aspect of the proposition.
“It is correct not to define quantities. But a judge cannot decide if [the drugs] are for personal use or not, the police must investigate before they stigmatise the user,” said politician Victoria Donda, who supports the proposal.
This is a debate that has been addressed recently in Latin America. Guatemalan president, Otto Perez Molina, and Colombian lawmakers have made statements in the last week opening the debate on the legalisation of drugs. President Cristina Fernández Kirchner has in the past declared that she does not think addicts should be charged as criminals.