In Chile, a bill is being proposed that would have politicians removed from office if they are found to use illegal drugs.
The previously proposed bill was brought to the forefront again after Chilean Senator Fulvio Rossi told the newspaper La Tercera that he smokes marijuana “two or three times a month.” Marijuana use is common in Chile, and it is legal for use alone at home but not in public or in large groups.
Although his job is now being threatened, Rossi is standing by his statements. He is also using his own drug use as the starting point for a national discussion about why marijuana is not legal in Chile.
On Sunday, Rossi called for an “intelligent” conversation about marijuana, saying that “legalizing the auto-cultivation of marijuana breaks the business of drug-trafficking,” and is not as harmful as tobacco or alcohol. Additionally, Rossi argued that marijuana use is an individual human right, since marijuana use occurs in the privacy of one’s home and doesn’t impact anyone else.
Senator Rossi has a unique viewpoint because he has a degree in medicine, allowing him to understand both the medical and political impact that marijuana legalization could have on the country.
In opposition to the bill that would oust drug-using politicians, Rossi has filed a bill of his own. His bill would decriminalize the home growing of marijuana for personal use. Under his proposal, citizens would also be able to transport small quantities of marijuana. The Senator also hopes to move marijuana under the jurisdiction of the health ministry because he believes it is a medical issue, not a law enforcement issue.
There are a number of opponents who have not hesitated to call Rossi’s actions and statements “irresponsible.” The criticism is based on their belief that marijuana is a gateway drug. Politicians are already concerned about the message that decriminalization will send to Chilean youth given the fact that 21% of adolescents in the country have tried marijuana by age 13.
Rossi’s belief that Chile must “adapt its legislation to social reality” is considered by many to be frank and realistic.
Marijuana use is very popular in Chile. The per-capita consumption of marijuana is higher in Chile than it is in any other country in Latin America. Many marijuana advocates believe that decriminalization of marijuana would help limit illegal drug cartels.