Colombian Laws for Recreational Drugs

Colombia’s legal framework surrounding recreational drugs is unique and nuanced. Here’s a breakdown of the key points:

1. Decriminalization of Possession for Personal Use:

  • In 2009, the Colombian Supreme Court ruled that possession of illegal drugs for personal use is not a criminal offense. This decision was based on the right to privacy and the principle of proportionality in punishment.
  • The Constitutional Court further clarified in 1994 that individuals have the right to consume psychoactive substances without facing legal consequences.

2. Established Possession Thresholds:

  • While possession for personal use is decriminalized, Colombia has established maximum quantities considered for personal consumption:
    • Marijuana: 20 grams
    • Hashish: 5 grams
    • Cocaine: 1 gram
    • Methaqualone: 2 grams
  • Exceeding these limits can be interpreted as intent to distribute, leading to potential legal repercussions.

3. Important Considerations:

  • Production, trafficking, and exportation of all recreational drugs remain illegal in Colombia.
  • Law enforcement has discretion to assess individual situations and determine if possession falls within the decriminalized scope. This can lead to uncertainties and potential for abuse.
  • Public consumption of recreational drugs is generally frowned upon and may result in administrative sanctions like fines.

Overall, Colombia’s approach focuses on decriminalizing possession for personal use while maintaining control over drug trafficking and associated harms. However, the system is not without its complexities and potential for ambiguity in application.

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Real Feedback from Expats with Boots on the Ground:

 For tourist and noncitizens police or immigration officials may say that you’re a tourist and you should not posses or be using drugs as you are here as a guest. This is debatable and of course can be fought in a court of law, but any arrest on a record is something any foreigner wants to avoid, even if eventually not found guilty.

Bribes and Extorsion by legal authorities via shakedowns in the streets is common in tourist areas. Therefore, it is best to take caution around these areas. Many foreigners have reported police frisking or searching when in and around tourist areas, even stopping cars in streets in illegal non-posted “road stops”. Usually, these police are not really interested in taking you to the police station. Be very polite and remember this is their country and you are a guest. The Colombian culture often proceeds with an informal form to deal with this issue is to respond without resistance, and have sympathy for what the official is saying. Let them explain the issue and without resistance, politely say, “puedes coloborar conmigo?”. That means can you work with me? They will let you know if or how they will work with you. If you get caught with drugs on you as a foreigner, even below the legal limit, they many times will empty your wallet of all cash according to reports from many persons. Be careful of women/men sex workers working the night, they may work with police to extort money as well.

Disclaimer: This information is for general knowledge purposes only and should not be interpreted as legal advice. It’s crucial to consult with a qualified legal professional for specific guidance regarding Colombian drug laws and their application in individual situations.

Cities such as Medelin Colombia have limited use of drugs in public spaces and nears schools as displayed below:

Decree 0044 of 2024 of Medellín on the consumption of psychoactive substances.

Objective: To protect children and adolescents from the consumption of psychoactive substances in public spaces.


  • Spaces: Educational institutions, parks, public squares, sports and recreational centers, and public or private events with the presence of minors.
  • Distance: The prohibition extends to 100 meters around these spaces.
  • Substances: Includes the personal dose.


  • Economic fine of more than $600,000.
  • Destruction of the hallucinogen.

Relevant aspects:

  • Does not criminalize consumers: Focuses on the protection of childhood and public health.
  • Articulation with the Code of Police and Coexistence: Allows the restriction of consumption in the mentioned areas.
  • Shared responsibility: Involves families in the prevention of drug use.
  • Validity: Projected for the next four years.
  • Replicability: It is made available to other municipalities for their analysis and implementation.


  • The decree seeks to protect minors from drug use in public spaces.
  • It is a preventive measure that does not criminalize consumers.
  • Responsibility lies with the State, families, and citizens.
  • The decree is an example of public policy replicable in other contexts.


  • The effectiveness of the decree will depend on its implementation and monitoring.
  • The measure is likely to generate debate on individual freedom and the criminalization of consumption.
  • A comprehensive approach is required that includes prevention, treatment, and reintegration.

Overall, the decree is a positive step in protecting children and promoting public health.

Here are some questions to reflect on:

  • What other measures can be taken to prevent drug use in minors?
  • How can the effective application of the decree be guaranteed?
  • How can the criminalization of drug users be avoided?
  • What role do families play in preventing drug use?

This decree is an important issue that invites discussion and debate in Medellin, Colombia.

In Colombia, the law that allows individuals to grow a limited number of marijuana plants for personal use in their homes is Law 1787 of 2016. This law decriminalized the possession and cultivation of marijuana for personal use and allows individuals to have up to 20 marijuana plants for personal consumption. However, it is important to note that this law strictly prohibits the sale and commercialization of marijuana, as well as any public consumption of the drug. Additionally, individuals must comply with certain regulations and security measures when growing marijuana plants at home, such as keeping the plants out of public view and ensuring they are not accessible to minors. Overall, Law 1787 of 2016 grants individuals the right to cultivate a limited number of marijuana plants for personal use in their homes, while also imposing strict regulations to ensure responsible and safe cultivation practices.


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