You may have read that the Argentine government declared a “National Emergency With Regards To Addictions” in its Official Bulletin earlier this week. Well, it looks like the Casa Rosada and the provinces plan on cracking down on private marijuana cultivation and have a huge anti-marijuana-smoking campaign in the works.
The agreement not to promote the legalisation of marijuana cultivation was made during various meetings held between provincial secretaries for drug use in the last few days, in which the final draft of the National Plan for the Reduction of Drug Demand 2016-2020 was also presented.
Officials who helped develop the document argued that the current addiction problem should not be further complicated by messages that influence the emergence of new consumers and, as a result, any debate on cannabis cultivation for both recreational and medicinal use should be discouraged.
This comes just a couple of months after a special commission in the Lower House of Congress approved a bill that would enable the State to provide cannabis oil to people with certain diseases, such as refractory epilepsy and autism. Legalizing the cultivation of marijuana was one of the main rallying cries coming from a group of mothers that formed an activist group called ‘mama cultiva’ as they pushed for the law. While legalized cannabis oil for medical uses is seen as a massive step forward for pro-cannabis camps, it came a bit short for many of the people directly affected by the debate over legalizing the general use of marijuana.
According to La Nación, the National Plan, prepared by SEDRONAR (the Office of Programming for the Prevention of Drug Addiction and the Fight against Drug Trafficking), focuses on social tolerance as one of the main reasons for the increase in cannabis use. According to the report, between 2009 and 2014, there was a “steady decrease in tobacco consumption and, on the other hand, an increase in marijuana use” among younger teenagers.
More than 15% of high school students admitted to having smoked marijuana. When the consultation was conducted just among students aged 17, however, the proportion of consumers doubled, climbing to three out of ten.
“There is a greater perception of risk when considering frequent use of alcohol, tobacco and psychotropic drugs than when considering the experimental or occasional use of marijuana,” states the report. It also highlights that 55.5% of students who reported having used marijuana did so for the first time before the age of 15. Ostensibly, the problem with the illegal marijuana market is that more new “customers” appear each year than those who quit using the drug.
The information collated by SEDRONAR also revealed that 18% of marijuana users and 47% of cocaine users show “signs or symptoms that indicate compulsive use, development of tolerance, and withdrawal symptoms.”
Taking that information as fact, officials from SEDRONAR are planning to launch vast campaigns next year against the use of marijuana, the most widely consumed drug in the country. The aim is the expose the harm that marijuana can cause in the same way as has been done with tobacco or paco. In these cases, consumption did actually decrease when the dangers associated with their use were publicized.
The concept of danger seems to be a sticking point within this plan. If both the federal and local governments feel that decreasing marijuana use is a priority, the “dangers” of consuming the drug will need to be defined. An easy counterargument would be that consuming coffee or mate is also associated with “signs” of compulsive use and withdrawal symptoms, but is not compared to paco or more destructive drugs.
In 2009, the Supreme Court declared that detaining people for possession of illegal substances was unconstitutional. Yet that ruling was never turned into law, meaning that police can still arrest users. In general though, judges throw out cases of this type (although not always).