Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Argentine Supreme Court to decriminalise drug possession today

So, in the same month that the UK Government is making political capital from attaching long prison sentences to several new drugs few people have even heard of, in a seemingly parallel universe not populated by drug warriors, other countries are queuing up to decriminalise personal possession of all drugs. Last week Mexico joined the growing list and today the Argentine Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling decriminalising drug possession for personal use.

The Court’s decision was based on a case brought by a 19 year-old who was arrested in the street for possession of two grams of cannabis. He was convicted and sentenced to a month and a half in prison, but challenged the constitutionality of the drug law based on Article 19 of the Argentine Constitution:

The private actions of men which in no way offend public order or morality, nor injure a third party, are only reserved to God and are exempted from the authority of judges. No inhabitant of the Nation shall be obliged to perform what the law does not demand nor deprived of what it does not prohibit.

Today, the Supreme Court ruled that personal drug consumption is covered by that privacy clause stipulated in Article 19 of the Constitution since it doesn’t affect third parties. Questions still remain, though, on the extent of the ruling. However, the government of President Cristina Fern├índez has fully endorsed the Court’s decision and has vowed to promptly submit a bill to Congress that would define the details of the decriminalization policies.

According to some reports, Brazil and Ecuador are considering similar steps.

The case has been under consideration by the high court for almost a year. The Argentine federal government has been reviewing its drug laws with an eye toward abandoning repressive policies toward users and is waiting for this case to be decided to move forward with new legislative proposals.

Supreme Court Justice Carlos Fayt told the Buenos Aires Herald that the court had reached a unanimous position on decriminalization, but declined to provide further details.

A positive Supreme Court decision on decriminalization would ratify a number of lower court decisions in recent years that have found that the use and possession of drugs without causing harm to others should not be a criminal offense.

see previous Transform blog coverage:

related coverage:
further reading:

Drug policy reform in practice - useful new briefing from TNI on decriminlisation and other forms of reform in Europe and the America's

thanks to Stop the Drug War and Cato@Liberty


Chrystal K. said...

Time to move to Argentina.

Chris Long R16 said...

Im sat here wondering what the impact will be on the UK and other countries with a prohibition based control for drugs.

Would I be right in thinking that this step may help those countries involved, but on the other hand, damage countries who choose not to?

My thinking is this....

For every country that decriminalises drugs for personal use, the street price will drop and many will turn to growing thier own marijuana/cannabis.
So will the illegal markets then decide they are better off exporting it to countries where it would make more profit, thus introducing more gangs to the streets and mroe security needed, both on and offshore?

I really wish more pressure was placed on the government, especially with all the new evidence from other countries. Its time we made the shift to a just policy that protects the users from coming in contact with gangs and lowlifes. Its time to legalise and regulate the market, with prohibition inplace it is no wonder that people dont want to take the risk of admitting they use drugs incase of getting slammed up.

Our human rights are being smashed to pieces, more and more CCTV and inaccurate tests which will criminalise more and more people.
I have had enough of being oppressed by those who hypocritically allow our youth to purchase alcohol cheaply through cornershops and supermarkets.
Couple this with adding legal highs to the prohibitionist agenda and we will now see and even greater strain on the mental health of our youths.

UG said...

When drug possesion is not a criminal offence, the price drops, and the production and markets become less of a criminal endeavour.
Also, with the open availability of cannabis and opiates, it may well be that the sales of pharmaceutical drugs drops off.
Unsuprisingly, some of the most active and vociferous campaigners for stricter drug laws are actually those who peddle the "legal drugs", whose side effects and prices are highly pernicious.