Colombia is about to grow its first crop of medical cannabis. After a long legal process, the country’s government has passed legislation allowing the cultivation and sale of marijuana for medical and scientific purposes.
Many Colombians rely on the therapeutic effects of medicinal products made with the cannabis plant. Thanks to popular pressure exerted by citizens of Colombia and recognized voices in the scientific and political world, the issue of legalization of medical marijuana was finally raised.
Everything started with the bill introduced by Senator Juan Manuel Galan (Liberal Party), who proposed to “create a legal framework for the regulation of cannabis in the Colombian national territory, for therapeutic, medical or scientific purposes”. From the start, President Juan Manuel Santos, Ministry of Health Alejandro Gaviria and medical personalities supported him.
The conservative political sectors, such as Democratic Senator Alvaro Uribe Center, expressed their disagreement.
The previous marijuana law created a legal vacuum about medical cannabis. “The possession and consumption of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances is prohibited, except prescription” indicated vaguely the legislative act 02, 2009, what modified Article 49 of the Constitution.
Before the adoption of the bill driven by Galan, there was already a small market of medicinal products with marijuana among its ingredients in Colombia. But due to poor legislative clarity, these drugs were not authorized to contain an illegal substance.
Sector traders used the legal vacuum to get the plant. The safest option was the self-cultivation, they got the variety required by seed banks online.
Another way to get marijuana was in the black market, which often does not have the purity required for these products and may contain chemical residues that decrease the quality.
A third option was to buy other people who also manufacture medical products with this plant. Although few dared to sell marijuana, as it was punishable by jail.
The cities also received products made by indigenous communities, the only ones who were allowed to grow marijuana or cocaine by law, but never to manufacture drugs.
Colombia approves the new law about medical cannabis
Now, thanks to the approval of the bill with 84 votes in favor to only 4 against, the legal situation has changed dramatically. The new project “will favor national producers and will mean 2,000 million dollars a year to the country,” says Juan Manuel Galan.
President Juan Manuel Santos has been responsible to approve the law, which has created a regulatory framework that allows access to the medical use of marijuana and its derivatives safely. “The production, purchase, import or export, storage, transport, marketing, use and possession of seeds of the cannabis plant, their derivatives and products containing, for medicinal and scientific purposes”, is regulated now.
The decree also sets the rules for those who want to dedicate to research and production of substances as oils, extracts, pills, solutions, syrups and creams. Also, it defines the specific activities permitted, growing and manufacturing areas, the benefits of these practices and conditions, in order to end with the legal vacuum in the regulation of medicinal cannabis.
The new order makes responsible for licenses of cultivation, production and marketing to the Ministries of Justice, Health and Agriculture, which they must work together.
Colombia has become in the fourth country in South America to legalize the medical use of cannabis, after Chile, Puerto Rico and Uruguay.