BOGOTA Aug 14 Colombia's President Juan Manuel
Santos said on Thursday he supported the use of marijuana for
medical use as a means to ease the suffering of terminally ill
patients and deprive criminals of profits from the illegal trade
in the drug.
The battle against drugs has failed because of its high cost
in human lives and economic impact for countries like Colombia
and Mexico, calling for an alternative expert-led and
evidence-based approach, Santos told a forum on illegal drugs in
"We look favorably upon your initiative over medicinal and
therapeutic use of marijuana," said Santos, referring to a
congressional bill by Liberal party Senator Juan Manuel Galan to
legalize it. Santos began his second four-year mandate on Aug.
The president said Galan's bill was a compassionate measure
for the terminally ill but also as a way to "remove criminals
from being the intermediary between the patient and a substance
that will ease their suffering."
In April, Uruguay legalized marijuana at every stage from
production to consumption. In the United States, Washington and
Colorado have legalized sales under license of marijuana though
federal laws prohibit it.
Colombia was a significant world producer of marijuana in
the 1970s before its cultivation was displaced by coca leaves to
produce cocaine, a drug whose trafficking and trading the
government says is a key source of funding for the country's
leftist guerrilla movements.
Much of Colombia's cocaine is trafficked into the United
States, which has tried to combat the drug by funding and
implementing aerial crop spraying to wipe out coca plantations.
(Writing by Peter Murphy; Editing by Richard Chang)