• 08:03 · 04 Jun 2013
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  • Ecuador could regulate the drug industry

    Ecuador could regulate the drug industry

    This week high profile Ecuadorian government officials in a number of departments have called the war against drugs “failed” and have said that the next move is to regulate and control the sale of some drugs.

    First Alexis Mera, the presidency's legal secretary, said that “absolute repression has not worked.” “Drug consumption” of some substances such as marihuana “needs to instead be regulated.”

    The next government-aligned organism to hint at a change in policy was the narcotics agency.

    The National Council of Narcotics Control (CONSEP) believes the government should decriminalize, control and tax the sale of drugs, according to one of its directors.

    “The state needs to regulate drugs,” said Jorge Marambio to The Telégrafo (Sp).

    The council’s mission statement encourages “good living” in society, an indigenous concept that the government has adopted as a rallying cry for all its social programs. CONSEP’s stated goals are to prevent drug use in the population, regulate legal controlled substances like painkillers, and manage and dispose of illegal substances confiscated by law enforcement.

    The next to weigh in was the hard-nosed, tough-on-crime Minister of the Interior, José Serrano. Serrano has been at the head of the department as it has coordinated a record number of drug seizures and cartel arrests.

    Under Serrano's direction, since the beginning of 2013, Ecuadorian police confiscated a total of 19.2 tons of drugs, 368,575 grams of which were marihuana. The most confiscated narcotic has been cocaine: a total of 15 thousand grams were seized. Authorities also confiscated 1,175 grams of cocaine base paste, 37.7 grams of heroine and .05 grams of ecstasy, according to the Andes state news agency, 

    Serrano spoke during a radio interview this week to say: “The global war on drugs has failed,” and “clear public policy needs to be established to combat addiction. Then, a process of drug decriminalization should start.”

    As Marambio told El Telegrafo, the CONSEP has some ideas about what the public policy of decriminalization and regulated sale could be. He says the main objective is to cut down on the violence that illegal drug dealing causes.

    At a meeting on May 17, Marambio made a presentation about the state of drug policies in countries like Portugal and the Czech Republic. He said drug consumption in those countries has gone down since they have imposed more lenient control for drug consumers.

    The CONSEP’s eastern director, Jimena Fernandez, remarks that the most recent Ecuadorian constitution already decriminalized drug consumption, by saying that no one should be jailed for simply using drugs. However, it often takes at least 90 days for the legal system to determine whether someone arrested carrying drugs is a consumer or a small-scale dealer.

    She says the new Criminal Code will need to determine what quantities a person can carry as a consumer.

    The CONSEP established, at their latest general meeting, that the following quantities be considered the maximum consumer amounts: 10 grams of marijuana or hash, 4 grams of opiates, 100 milligrams of heroin, 5 grams of cocaine, 0.020 milligrams of LSD, and 80 milligrams of methanphetamine or MDMA.

    Further reading, in Spanish:

    Ecuador siezes 204 tonnes of drugs in past five years

    Legalizing marijuana: the only way?