BOGOTA – Dozens of Colombian college students gathered in downtown Bogota to smoke marijuana as a protest against new fines taking effect Monday that ban the drug’s use in public spaces.
“We repudiate the Colombian government’s repressive policies and we demand our right to deal with drugs in an autonomous and responsible manner as happens in other countries,” Distrital University students said in a statement.
The smoke-in took place at the park that surrounds Bogota’s Planetarium, where thousands of people walk by on weekdays on the way to work or classes.
Protesters criticized the Colombian government’s decision rejecting personal use of marijuana as “the social appropriation of the individual” and denounced policies based on “repression.”
In Colombia, according to the students, land planted with marijuana, opium poppies and coca keeps growing, as do the number of drug users.
The pro-cannabis protest went on without incident, although police officers did argue with protesters about their obligation not to consume drugs in a park frequented by children and seized some marijuana.
The new National Police Code, which took effect on Monday, calls for fines of up to 194,000 pesos (about $66) for the consumption of illegal drugs in public spaces.