Drug consumption should be made illegal, Colombia tells General Assembly

23 September 2009
Álvaro Uribe Vélez, President of the Republic of Colombia

The consumption of drugs should be made illegal to break the increasingly close links with production, trafficking and organized crime, Colombia’s President told the General Assembly today as he warned about the dangers posed by the illicit drug industry.

Álvaro Uribe Vélez told the start of the Assembly’s annual General Debate, held at UN Headquarters in New York, that proposals to legalize drug use did not make sense given the tightening nexus between consumption and production.

“The old division between producer and consumer countries has disappeared,” he said. “Colombia began as a space for trafficking, broke into production and today suffers as a consumer. Those who started as consumers increase production. All peoples are exposed to the risks of production, trafficking and consumption.”

Mr. Uribe urged UN Member States to “reflect on the need to make consumption illegal,” rather than to advocate for the legalization of drugs.

“There is no coherence between the severity facing production and trafficking and the permissiveness of consumption. This has led to murderous micro-trafficking in cities, to encouraging consumption by adolescents and youth and to involving children in the criminal enterprise.

“We are advancing in the constitutional process to make consumption illegal, making sure not to confuse the sick addict with the criminal distributor.”

The Colombian President said the only reason now for terrorism in his country was the illicit drug industry, with criminals more open about their connection to the drug trade and their tactics, such as abductions.

But he said authorities in the South American country, where Government forces, rebels, paramilitary groups and criminal gangs have fought over four decades, were having success in combating criminal activity and what he described as “paramilitarism.”


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