The trend in decriminalizing illegal drugs is spreading. In 2013, Uruguay legalized marijuana. Portugal’s decriminalization program from 2001 (which included all drugs), has been a resounding success in terms of public health and safety. And now lawmakers in Ecuador are proposing a bill that would do the same.
Prisons in Ecuador continue to be flooded with so-called “criminals” busted with illegal drugs. The problem got so bad last year that thousands of drug traffickers were let go, the country is now considering a similar solution: decriminalization illegal drugs, across the board.
The author of the bill, Carlos Velasco, the chair of the Ecuadorian Commission of the Right to Health, stated “treating the drug phenomenon in a repressive way, as was done in the 1980s and 1990s when prison was the only destination for the drug consumer, is absurd.” Detractors of the bill argue it will merely encourage drug use.
This is, after all, Ecuador, where a few years earlier, President Rafael Correa admitted that his father was arrested for smuggling drugs. At the same, the two countries bordering Ecuador (Columbia and Peru) are the world’s largest producers of cocaine.
So yeah, repression of illegal drugs in Ecuador is truly an absurd notion. The bill, which is going to up for debate among lawmakers later this month, also includes a system to provide treatment and rehabilitation services for addicts.