On Tuesday, Juan Manuel Santos, the president of Colombia, signed a decree legalizing and regulating medicinal marijuana. This is the latest softening on Colombia’s strict war on drugs. In a televised address seen across the country, Santos said that it would be legal to grow, process, import and export marijuana for medical and scientific use.

“This decree allows licenses to be granted for the possession of seeds, cannabis plants, and marijuana,” Santos announced throughout Colombia. “It places Colombia in the group of countries that are at the forefront… in the use of natural resources to fight disease.”

He also stated that the legalization “does not go against our international commitments on drug control.”

Colombia’s government has been partnered with the United States for a long time in order to fight drug trafficking. To do so, Colombia used billion of dollars in the United States funding as well as the military to get rid of the image as the world’s biggest cocaine producer. However, there has been signs of the war on drugs in Colombia has been dying down over the last couple of months. The president’s announcement comes after a decision to stop spraying herbicide glyphosate on fields of coca, the main ingredient in cocaine.

In April, the World Health Organization stated that the chemical, sold by United States biotech company Monsanto under the brand name Roundup, is “probably carcinogenic.” Also, Santos announced that in September, Colombia would start giving land to farmers who stop growing coca. Medical marijuana used to be a gray area in Colombia. It was approved under a law in 1986, but the lack of regulation did not allow production nationally.

“The manufacture, export, sale, and medical and scientific use of this and other substances have been permitted for several decades in Colombia. However, they were never regulated. That is what we are doing today,” Santos stated.


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