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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
Taken Questions for May 6, 1994

1. COLOMBIA Q: Has the Colombian Constitutional Court legalized the possession and consumption of narcotics?

A: COLOMBIA'S CONSTITUTIONAL COURT, THE COUNTRY'S HIGHEST JUDICIAL AUTHORITY ON MATTERS OF CONSTITUTIONALITY, DECLARED UNCONSTITUTIONAL THE PORTION OF THE 1986 NARCOTICS LAW THAT ESTABLISHED PENALTIES FOR PERSONAL USE AND CONSUMPTION OF SMALL QUANTITIES OF NARCOTICS. THIS DECISION WAS RENDERED IN RESPONSE TO A LEGAL CHALLENGE PRESENTED TO THE COURT.

--PRESIDENT GAVIRIA HAS EXPRESSED STRONG DISAGREEMENT WITH THE COURT'S DECISION AND HAS PROMISED TO SEEK NEW LEGISLATION OR, IF REQUIRED, A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO REESTABLISH CONTROL OVER THE POSSESSION AND CONSUMPTION OF NARCOTICS.

Q: Does this signal a weakening in Colombia's commitment to drug control?

A:-- THE COURT'S DECISION HAS NO DIRECT IMPACT ON THE PROVISIONS IN COLOMBIAN LAW AGAINST NARCOTICS PRODUCTION AND TRAFFICKING. THESE REMAIN IN FORCE.

--HOWEVER, THE CONSEQUENCES OF THIS COURT DECISION COULD BE PROFOUNDLY HARMFUL FOR COLOMBIA'S OWN PEOPLE, ESPECIALLY ITS YOUNG PEOPLE.

--PRESIDENT GAVIRIA IS RESPONDING FORCEFULLY TO THIS SITUATION, AND WE HOPE THAT HIS GOVERNMENT SUCCEEDS IN ITS EFFORT TO REESTABLISH CONTROL OVER NARCOTICS POSSESSION AND CONSUMPTION . (###)

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