A group of farmers in Corinto, Colombia has started a collective aiming to become the prime supplier for the country’s new legal cannabis market, according to a Guardian report. Under the law passed early this year, marijuana is legal for medical and research purposes in Colombia.
Currently, police estimate that 100 hectares of land in Corinto is being used for illegal cultivation, representing about 50 percent of all illegal crops in Colombia. The collective, Caucannabis, hopes to bring some of that product to the legal industry.
Betania Rodriguez, a cooperative member, said that marijuana and coca are about the only options farmers in the region have to make a living. The government has so far issued licenses to three companies, but those licenses only currently allow for the extraction of oils and resins from the plants, so — under the current law — these rural farms growing marijuana are still committing a crime.
“It’s illegal but it’s all we’ve got,” Rodriguez said in the report.
The licensed companies will be able to cultivate plants eventually, however, and members of Caucannabis say they know more than the companies about growing the plant. If the industry is going to have any real impact in the nation, traditional marijuana growers should supply the cannabis, the farmers argue. However, many of these traditional growers have criminal records due to their role in the illicit trade, and the law says that no one with a record can be issued a license to legally grow.
Hector Fabio Sanchez, the leader of the co-op, says those operating illegally are “eager” to bring their businesses into the formal market.
“But things need to move quickly,” he said. “If it takes two years to get going people will just say, ‘Oh, it was all a lie.’”
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