By Steve Elliott
Chile is on the verge of joining a growing list of Latin American countries decriminalizing marijuana. Proposed changes to Ley 20.000 (Law 20,000) which would grant Chileans the right to possess up to 10 grams of cannabis and grow up to six plants passed Chile's Chamber of Deputies last month on a 68-39 vote.
The bill must be adjusted by a health commission and then passed by the Chilean Senate before it officially becomes law, but strong support for marijuana legalization in Chile indicates a new norm in the Western Hemisphere and that the War On Drugs has failed, according to Olivia Marple of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs.
In a 2012 poll of 18- to 34-year-olds by Asuntos del Sur (Southern Affairs), 79 percent of young Chileans "voice strong approval" for legalization, with 52 percent disapproving of government campaigns attempting to reduce drug use and 54 percent did not support the government's current drug policies.
Fifty percent of Chileans at large favor legalization while 45 percent are against, according to a 2014 poll by Cadem, a Chilean market and public opinion investigation company. The approval figure skyrockets to 86 percent in favor of the legalization of medical marijuana.