By Emily Ledger
On Friday (23rd July), the Colombian government approved legislation that will legalise the export of cannabis flower to markets around the world. The change has been called the most significant move in the country’s cannabis legislation since 2017.
The decree was signed by Colombian President Ivan Duque, lifting the prohibition on the exportation of dried cannabis flower, opening up a range of opportunities for both the domestic sector and international cannabis companies.
Despite the growing, and often pioneering cannabis legislation in Colombia – including regulation on the possession, cultivation, production, and distribution of cannabis products – many investors and global cannabis companies have been vocal about the difficulties involved in the current export-approval process.
In addition to streamlining the regulatory procedures concerning production and exportation, the directive also allows for the expansion of the sale of cannabis-based medicines. The new rules will reportedly also allow the domestic cannabis industry to begin incorporating cannabinoids into edibles, cosmetics, and other sectors.
“This means Colombia can enter to play a big role in the international market,” President Ivan Duque said after signing the decree. He continued to state that Latin American cannabis could soon be worth $6 billion USD.
The possession of small amounts of all illicit drugs for personal use was decriminalised in 1994 following a ruling from the Supreme Court that penalties were unconstitutional. This was reversed in 2009 with a constitutional amendment, however, in 2011, the decriminalisation for possession of small amounts of illegal drugs was reinstated.
A year later, proposed legislation by the new government, led by President Juan Manuel Santos, to decriminalise the possession of up to 20 grams of cannabis and one gram of cocaine was approved by the Constitutional Court.
The former President, Juan Manuel Santos also expressed a desire to explore further reform measures beyond decriminalisation, stating in an interview with the Observer in 2011 that “[a] new approach should try and take away the violent profit that comes with drug trafficking … If that means legalizing, and the world thinks that’s the solution, I will welcome it.”