Argentina Court Rules for Decriminalization of Cannabis Possession

Buenos Aires, Argentina: In a ruling on Wednesday, a federal court in Buenos Aires ruled that the criminalization of the possession of personal amounts of cannabis and other drugs is unconstitutional, according to the Argentinean newspaper El Financiero. The case stems from the conviction of two teenagers arrested for possession of marijuana cigarettes and ecstasy at a rave in May of 2007.

The Argentinean Supreme Court still must review the case before it becomes law.

Should the Supreme Court rule in accordance with the lower court, it would pave the way for the striking of the convictions of thousands of Argentinean citizens for minor marijuana possession offenses, which would ultimately result in the suspension of their sentences and their release if still imprisoned.

The law, when drafted, was based on the concept that the arrest of drug consumers attacked the base of a chain that led to narcotraffickers. However, in its ruling, the court stated that the law had generated “an avalanche of cases targeting consumers without climbing up the ladder of drug trafficking.”

The ruling is in accordance with the political views of Argentinean president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who favors decriminalizing the consumption of drugs. Last month at a UN meeting in Vienna on drug laws and enforcement, Argentina’s Minister of Justice, Anibal Fernandez, said that the policy of punishing drug consumers was a “total failure.”

In contrast, Thomas Shannon, US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, said that cooperation on fighting drugs is an area of converging interest for the United States and Argentina after meeting with President de Kirchner earlier this month.

For more information, contact NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre at (202) 483-5500.