• Argentina

    Overview of drug laws and legislative trends in Argentina


    Following the Supreme Court judgement known as the Arriola Ruling, the progressive trend towards decriminalisation has ground to a halt in parliament, even though there have been some encouraging developments. The different proposals to change the law that are currently being discussed vary in their scope and extent, but they all seek to decriminalise possession for personal use. The most far-reaching proposal is the one put forward by Senator Aníbal Fernández, which seeks to overhaul the whole set of criminal laws currently in force in the country on the subject of drugs. At the opposite extreme are proposals that only seek to introduce a new article decriminalising the possession of drugs for personal use. The change may be postponed until after the Criminal Code is reformed, and the debate on that is due to start in 2013.??


    ??Law 23.737, which has been in force since 1989, replaced Law 20.771 of 1974, the country’s first specific law on psychoactive substances. The current law broadly retains the previous wording on drug trafficking crimes, but increased the length of the prison sentence to between 4 and 15 years. It also makes possession for personal use an offence that may lead to a prison sentence, although this can be replaced by treatment and/or educational “safety measures.”

    In a case related to the possession of small quantities of marihuana, a 2009 Supreme Court judgement known as the “Arriola ruling” declared that it was unconstitutional to enforce the second paragraph of Article 14 of 1989’s Law 23.737, which states: "The prison sentence will range from one month to two years when the small quantity of the drug and other circumstances suggest unequivocally that possession is for personal use." A reform of the law has been pending ever since.

    For the latest news on drug law reform in Argentina click here.

  • Eyes Wide Shut: Corruption and Drug-Related Violence in Rosario

    Ross Eventon
    Briefing Series on Drug Markets and Violence, Nr 1
    December 2013

    In Rosario, Argentina, the presence of criminal organisations involved in drug trafficking was a low priority for the government until New Year’s day 2012, when the killing of three innocent civilians by members of a gang sparked press attention.

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  • Drugs and prisons in Argentina

    Martha Ines Miravete was a stage actress in Buenos Aires. She recalls how, in 1994, a man changed her life by inviting her to participate in a video project in Brazil. She was excited at the opportunity for new work and the chance to travel for the first time. But, she was stopped at the airport, the luggage was searched, and cocaine was found.

  • Drug Laws and Prisons in Argentina

    Systems Overload: Drug Laws and Prisons in Latin America

    Within the international drugs market, Argentina is a “trans-shipment” country for cocaine. Recent decades have seen an increase in the consumption of narcotic and psychotropic substances in the country, and in recent years laboratories for the production of cocaine hydrochloride, though not on the scale of those in Colombia, Peru, or Bolivia, have begun to appear. The laws designed to prosecute drug crimes have failed to reduce the scale of trafficking and have resulted instead in the imprisonment of people in vulnerable situations.

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  • Argentina: Reform on the way?

    Graciela Touzé
    Series on Legislative Reform of Drug Policies Nr. 6
    July 2010

    In August 2009, the Argentina Supreme Court declared as unconstitutional legislation that criminalized drug possession for personal consumption. This briefing discusses the background of that decision and the small steps in the right direction that have been taken since, to conclude that there is still much to do before a reform agenda can be implemented.

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  • The "Arriola" Ruling of the Supreme Court of Argentina on the Possession of Drugs for Personal Consumption

    Intercambios Asociacion Civil
    September 1, 2009

    On August 25, 2009, Argentina’s Supreme Court of Justice of Argentina unanimously declared to be unconstitutional the second paragraph of Article 14 of the country’s drug control legislation (Law Number 23,737), which punishes the possession of drugs for personal consumption with prison sentences ranging from one month to two years (although education or treatment measures can be substitute penalties). According to the Court, the unconstitutionality of the article is applicable to cases of drug possession for personal consumption that does not affect others.

  • 'Paco' Under Scrutiny

    The cocaine base paste market in the Southern Cone
    Transnational Institute (TNI)
    TNI Drugs & Conflict Debate Paper 14
    October 2006

    Based on two studies carried out in the cities of Buenos Aires and Montevideo, this report examines the origin, characteristics and impact of the explosive increase in cocaine base paste in urban areas. It also highlights the variety of products consumed in these cities and the substance known as crack that is consumed in Brazilian cities. The Brazilian experience with this consumption could serve as an example and a lesson for the Southern Cone.

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