President of Colombia Signs Decree to Legalize Medical Cannabis

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos signed a decree Tuesday making the cultivation, processing and distribution of medical marijuana fully legal in the South American country.

The War on Drugs in Colombia, fueled by funding from the U.S., has created a fifty-year battle between the Colombian government and drug cartels, and has left more than 220,000 dead.

Though marijuana for medical use was authorized in 1986, no regulatory body existed to grant permits for growing, producing, or distributing it, leaving medical marijuana in a legal grey area. Colombia decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana in 2013, and it is legal to grow up to twenty plants.

But until now, there was no regulatory inroad for drug companies seeking to manufacture marijuana-based medicines to access the plant. “That is what we are doing today,” Santos said.

According to Yahoo News, President Santos’s televised address focused on the medical benefits of cannabis. The decree is aimed at making the cultivation, purchase, and development of cannabis-based drugs easier for health companies.

“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.

Photo Credit: Julián Ortega Martínez

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