Colombian President Signs Decree Legalizing Medical Cannabis

Published on December 23, 2015 · Last updated July 28, 2020

It’s official! Colombia is now officially joining the medical cannabis club. With a decree signed Tuesday President Juan Manuel Santos Calderón fully legalized medical marijuana.

The new policy will regulate the medicine as well allow importing and exporting cannabis for medical and scientific purposes.

One major purpose of the decree is to curb international drug trafficking and move medical marijuana production out of a legal gray zone. Colombia has long been known for its violent, drug-related crime, which is only escalated by a staunch war on drugs.

The decree from President Santos Calderón explained his actions in a statement to the public:

“We want to promote research and production of drugs made from cannabis, as we do with any natural element that can give relief from disease or pain. … What we want is for patients to have access to domestically produced drugs that are safe, quality and affordable.”

The president used the examples of other countries like Canada, parts of the United States, and Chile, where the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes is permitted. Medical marijuana was, technically speaking, already legal in Colombia, but there wasn’t a way to readily obtain it — legally, at least. The new decree will create an infrastructure for regulation, production, and distribution.

President Santos Calderón in his decree also gave a nod to a new era for cannabis globally and a new approaching to the war on drugs:

“This decree puts Colombia in with a group of countries that are at the forefront, as a country advanced and progressive in the use of natural resources to combat disease.”

This could mark a new chapter in Colombia, which has long seen the devastating effects of drug-related crime. Could this also be the beginning of the end of the war on drugs in the country?

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Lisa Rough
Lisa Rough
Lisa is a former associate editor at Leafly, where she specialized in legislative cannabis policy and industry topics.
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