In a major sign that the fight against the war on drugs is gaining new ground, the one-time epicenter of drug trafficking, Colombia, has finally ended its prohibition on medical marijuana.
In breaking news today out of Colombia, the South American nation has just issued a decree ending the prohibition on medical cannabis use and research.
The decree, signed by Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos this morning, legalizes and regulates medical marijuana, representing the latest and most significant loosening of the country’s hardline and divisive tactics in the war on drugs.
In a nationally televised address, President Santos announced it would be completely legal to grow, process, import and export cannabis and its derivatives for medical and scientific use.
“This decree allows licenses to be granted for the possession of seeds, cannabis plants and marijuana,” he said 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.”
Yahoo! news reports that Colombia’s government has long been a close ally of the United States in fighting international drug trafficking.
Over the past few decades, Colombia’s government has utilized its military and billions of dollars in US funding and support to try to break out of its reputation as as the world’s largest cocaine producer.
These relations mean President Santos has to strike a careful balance between the policies demanded by Colombian citizens, public health, and the country’s commitments to the United States.
The move to legalize medical cannabis use and research is part of a series of new laws and decisions aimed at improving public health and restoring agricultural land and viability, which has been under assault due to the efforts to crackdown on cocaine production.
For example, Santos’s announcement follows a recent decision to stop aerially spraying the herbicide glyphosate on fields of coca, the raw ingredient for cocaine.
The herbicide is more commonly known to American consumers as Roundup weed-killer, sold by US biotechnology company Monsanto. The World Health Organization warned in April that the chemical herbicide is “probably carcinogenic.”
Santos also announced in September that Colombia would begin giving land to farmers who stop growing coca.
The news represents a major victory for cannabis in Colombia, where medical marijuana had previously fallen into somewhat of a legal gray.
It was authorized under a 1986 law, but the lack of regulation prevented production on a national level.
“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 said.
(Photo Credit: yahoo.com)