The massive participation in Argentina in the local version of the World March for Marihuana was representative of the effervescence in the debate on the reform of the Law on Drugs that came from the detention and prosecution of various activists for simple possession of Cannabis plants in their homes. Additionally, protesters learned about the sentencing of Pablo Aguirre for possession of Cannabis plants in his house.
As any other May 7th, the World March for Marihuana took place in more than 40 different countries around the World. In Argentina, this date held important relevance between drug users, growers and activists that protested in 23 cities. In Buenos Aires, the march convened more than 15,000 people that marched from the Plaza de Mayo to the Congress in order to demonstrate to legislators that a reform of the Ley de Estupefacientes 23.737 was necessary, in order to make current laws in agreement to what the Supreme Court determined about two years ago: that prosecution for possession solely for personal consumption is unconstitutional.
Prisoners for Cultivating
In addition to the strengthening of the debate surrounding the elimination of legal penalization for offenses related to the consumption of drugs, the local movement is largely due to the recent succession of arrests for possession of plants for consumption; among the accused were two well known activists in favor of decriminalization.
The first case did not occur in the country, rather in Uruguay, but the accused was the Argentina writer and Cannabis activist Alicia Castilla. Her arrest in Montevideo lasted for 95 days, after police found 29 Cannabis plants in her house. Castilla was released at the beginning of May, but still has to attend a trial at which she could potentially receive a sentence between 20 months and 10 years in prison. This arrest occurred right when the Uruguayan Parliament was preparing to address this topic on a short term scale, and nearly all Politicians across the Political spectrum agreed on decriminalization of cultivation for personal use.
Meanwhile, in Argentina, Matías Faray was detained between April 14th-29th in Morón (Province of Buenos Aires), based on accusations of violating Paragraph A, Article 5 of the Law 23.737 that punishes illegal cultivation of plants or possession of seeds aimed at producing drugs, or primary materials or elements destined for the production of drugs with between 4-15 years of prison or house arrest. Matías was released, but similar to the case of Alicia Castilla in Uruguay, he still faces an upcoming trial.
Sentenced for the number of plants
The week before the march, protestors, activists and the general public learned about the sentencing of Pablo Aguirre to 32 years in jail after police found 12 Cannabis plants and 80 grams of Marihuana in his house. Aguirre is an employee of the Ministry of Education of the Nation and a musician, and was sentenced to this harsh punishment the Federal Judge Xavier Tuya of Oral Court #6 of San Isidro. “We have to consider that the cultivation of this type of plant could potentially be a link to drug-trafficking,” argued the judge, who cited a prior conviction to Arriola failure.
Aguirre had mentioned that he turned to cultivation because of the “problems related to the police that came with buying marihuana, and that buying was bad and the marihuana was of bad quality. At the time, the policeman Cecilio Armando Arguello, responsible for pre-raid intelligence work declared during the process that “he had not seen any movement related to buying or selling of the substances, and that nobody had seen any type of this activity from the accused” according to the quotation from Newspaper Pagina 12 (May 13th, 2011). A group of important activists and co-workers of Aguirre began a campaign for his release, which you can support, or learn more information about by contacting: email@example.com
Its time to change the legislation
These cases do nothing more than confirm the necessity-that many different countries in the region share- of changing the laws so that the possession and cultivation for personal consumption remains separate from fighting drug trafficking. In Uruguay, similar to Brazil, where the legislative block of the official Partido de los Trabajadores (PT) started a decriminalization project that promoted the creation of cooperatives based on cultivation of Cannabis, and from this the topic seems to be advancing. In Argentina, meanwhile, the Parliament is working on various projects to reform the law 23.737
The cities that marched in favor of decriminalization include: Bahía Blanca, San Carlos de Bariloche, Comodoro Rivadavia, Córdoba, La Plata, Formosa, La Rioja, Mar del Plata, Mendoza, Neuquén, Resistencia, Río Grande, Rosario, Salta, San Fernando del Valle de Catamarca, San Juan, San Luís, San Miguel de Tucumán, Ushuaia y Venado Tuerto. Calculations estimate that in total, more than 25,000 people in the country participated in the protests.