A decree by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos will see the rapid growth of a legitimate medical cannabis farming industry in the South American nation.
“What we’re seeking is for patients to be able to get access to drugs produced locally that are safe, of high quality and accessible,” said the President. President Santos also stressed the new laws will not erode the country’s efforts in addressing the trafficking of illicit drugs.
The decree, prepared with the participation of Colombia’s health, justice and agriculture ministries, lays down the legal framework required for the fast-tracking of licenses for possession of cannabis seeds and growing of medical cannabis crops reports Fox News.
While manufacture, export, sale and use of marijuana for medical and scientific purposes has apparently been permitted in the country for some time, these activities have existed without proper regulatory framework and the black market has thrived.
Colombia’s senate originally approved a medical marijuana bill on its first reading in 2014 with 13 votes in favor and two against.
“..we understand it as a compassionate measure to understand the pain of terminally ill patients but also as a way out of the hands of criminals being intermediaries between the patient and a substance that will allow them to alleviate their suffering,” said Juan Manuel Galán at the time.
Mr. Galán, the sponsor of the bill, has stated 400,000 Colombians suffering from epilepsy and other conditions could benefit from the legalising of medical cannabis.
After further debate, Colombia government officials announced plans to legalize medical marijuana on June 12, 2015. Last week, the Senate voted 46 to 6 to pass the medical cannabis legislation, which incorporated establishing a system of licensed cultivation centers and dispensaries.
While growing medicinal cannabis may now be legal, the future of industrial hemp in Columbia is still hazy. As far as we’re aware, the growing of industrial hemp – which contains very low levels of THC – in Colombia remains illegal.
Like many other countries, including the USA and Australia, Colombia once had a thriving industrial hemp industry until it bowed to international pressure; sending a harmless and incredibly useful plant into legal oblivion.