via The Star
BOGOTA, COLOMBIA—Marijuana has long been accused of being a gateway to deadlier vices. But could cannabis be a swinging door that might also lead people away from hard drugs? That’s what this capital city is trying to find out.
In a controversial public health project, Bogota will supply marijuana to 300 addicts of bazuco, a cheap cocaine derivative that generates crack-like highs and is as addictive as heroin.
Bogota has 7,500 bazuco users among its 9,500 homeless population, said Ruben Dario Ramirez, director of the Center for the Study and Analysis of Coexistence and Security, which is spearheading the project.
Addicts are often driven to crime to support their habit, turning parts of this thriving city into bazuco wastelands where junkies huddle to smoke the drug. In the last three years, 277 homeless people have been murdered, he said.
For the most desperate users, the cannabis cure may be the only way out.
“People accuse us of turning bazuco addicts into marijuana addicts but that’s an urban myth,” he said. “This program is about reducing personal harm and the risks to society.”
Authorities believe they might rescue some of the addicts by supplying them with quality controlled medical marijuana with a high THC content (the mind-altering component of marijuana), specifically selected to relieve the anxiety that comes with kicking bazuco.
The idea is controversial. Critics have accused Ramirez and his colleagues of smoking their own medicine and say the project risks making city government an enabler.