Colombian Mayor Proposes Drug Use for Medical Purposes

By Dialogo
September 26, 2012

In Bogotá, drug addiction rehab centers could provide addicts with drugs seized from drug traffickers, or legally purchased by foreign laboratories, stated Mayor Gustavo Petro on September 24.

Last week, the Colombian capital opened its first two mobile centers to assist drug addicts in areas highly affected by poverty and social exclusion. These units only provide legal medical prescription drugs as substitutes.

In the next months, Mayor Petro, former leftist senator and guerrilla member, expects to inaugurate facilities that would provide illegal drugs to addicts under medical supervision. In order to carry out this initiative, authorization from the national government is required.

The mayor’s office would have two alternatives to obtain the drugs. On the one hand, it might come from ‘‘seizures carried out by the police, as long as they are certified by a State laboratory,’‘ to guarantee that the drugs are in proper condition, explained Petro to the private radio station La FM.

The second alternative would be to buy the drug ‘‘abroad in legal laboratories from the United States and it could be imported for therapeutic purposes,’‘ he said.

Petro advocates this kind of treatment, which is new in Latin America and has been used ‘‘successfully’‘ for over 25 years in dozens of cities worldwide, to reduce the damage caused by drug use in addicts.

The facilities would consist of ‘‘clean sites, where state personnel or certified NGOs would allow addicts to stay there and consume the substances,’‘ he explained.

In July, a law passed in Colombia established that drug addiction must be considered a public health concern, and consumers should be treated as patients, not as criminals.