Colombia Legalized Medical Cannabis

Colombia Legalized Medical Cannabis

The President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, signed a decree to regulate the cultivation, processing, import and export of medical marijuana on December 22. Medicinal cannabis has technically been legal in the northern-most South American country since 1986, but national production was hindered because a regulatory system was never established by previous laws.

Santos notified Colombian citizens of the new law, which establishes a system for licensing cultivators, processors and retailers, during a televised speech. Cannabis, in all forms, for medical and scientific use is now legal and able to be regulated in Colombia.

“This decree allows licenses to be granted for the possession of seeds, cannabis plants and marijuana,”

Santos announced from the presidential palace.

“It places Colombia in the group of countries that are at the forefront… in the use of natural resources to fight disease.”

colombia medical marijuanaPresident Juan Manuel Santos signing the decree legalizing the use of medical marijuana, next to Minister of Health Alejandro Gaviria, in Bogota on December 22, 2015 (AFP Photo/Juan Pablo Bello)

Now that the decree to regulate medicinal cannabis has been signed, those seeking to cultivate cannabis will be able to apply for licenses through the National Narcotics Council. Manufacturing licenses, for those who wish to process cannabis into concentrates and edibles, will be permitted by the health ministry.

Manufacturing regulations will be just as important as cultivation so that patients can have safe, reliable access to non-smokeable forms of cannabis, like concentrates which can be vaporized and infused foods and tinctures which can be ingested.

“Our goal is for patients to be able to access medications made in Colombia that are safe, high-quality and accessible. It is also an opportunity to promote scientific research in our country,”

Santos said.

The decree also permits health ministry licensed companies to export cannabis products to other countries.

Colombia now joins Uruguay, where cannabis was fully legalized in 2014 and Chile, where the government is also reportedly looking to establish an international sales market for their medical cannabis program, in the group of South American countries which have chosen to reform national cannabis policies.

Second Cannabis Cultivation Project Approved in Chile

Second Cannabis Cultivation Project Approved in Chile

In September 2014, the Chilean Government announced plans to establish the first marijuana cultivation site to be dedicated to studying medical benefits of the plant. By the end of October, after many patients lobbied for access, the government approved that medical cannabis plants be cultivated for 200 Chilean patients. This was the first project of it’s kind in South America.

Now, the government of Chile has approved a second medical marijuana farming project. However, this time is different. This project aims to establish an industrial production process and research facility to hopefully establish a national and international sales and production market.

The company awarded approval for this project is called Agrofuturo. According to the Agricultural and Livestock Service (SAG) of Chile, the cultivation project will be set up in Los Ángeles, more than 300 miles south of the first approved cultivation site. Jaime Peña, regional director of the SAG told Bio Bio Chile, the these cultivation centers will operate under strict regulations. Each facility will be fenced and have 24-hour surveillance and security. Agrofuturo is not permitted to reproduce or clone any of the plants or seeds that will be provided for this grow operation.

The Congress of Chile will reportedly also hear 2 different bills to allow for the production and sale of medical marijuana. Currently, cannabis consumption is not illegal in the South American country, but growing and selling the plant is.

While the Chilean President, Michelle Bachelet (pictured below), reported that Chile is not ready to pass any such legalization legislation at this time, she did establish a technical committee to analyze drug reform legislation. She will wait to hear from that advisory committee before making any changes to the law.

michelle bachelet


photo credit: La Prensa, Slate

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