Is Weed Legal in Colombia?

Is Weed Legal in Colombia?

Colombia, located at the northern tip of South America, is often regarded as the ‘Gateway to South America’ thanks to its strategic location. Known for its vast biodiversity, dynamic culture, and robust Spanish-speaking population, Colombia is also gaining attention for its evolving cannabis policies. With a well-defined regulatory framework in place since 2016, Colombia has garnered significant investments in the medical cannabis industry due to its favorable climatic and growing conditions.

This article aims to offer a comprehensive understanding of the current legal framework surrounding cannabis in Colombia, with insights into the historic, present, and future directions of weed legislation in the country.

Unveiling the Medical Cannabis Landscape in Colombia

Colombia first took a step towards embracing medical cannabis in 1986, a status that remained vaguely defined until nearly three decades later. Through a decree passed in 2015, the Colombian government established clear regulations around the cultivation, sale, and medical use of cannabis.

Presently, with a prescription from a registered medical practitioner, patients can access pharmaceutical cannabis products. Alternatively, patients have the liberty to cultivate their cannabis plants, strictly adhering to the law that prohibits the commercialization of these personally grown plants.

Despite this, locating a medical professional willing to prescribe cannabis treatments can be challenging, as can finding clinics offering these treatment options. With only a handful of clinics serving approximately 3,000 registered patients nationwide, increasing accessibility is a key challenge that needs to be addressed.

Personal Consumption and Decriminalization: Understanding the Fine Line

In Colombia, personal consumption of cannabis, including its possession and use, has been decriminalized. Colombian nationals are legally allowed to retain up to 20 grams of weed and cultivate a maximum of twenty plants – both strictly for personal use. Despite the decriminalization, any commercial transaction involving cannabis, including its sale and purchase, remains illegal.

Recreational Weed in Colombia: A Grey Area

Recreational use of cannabis continues to be deemed unlawful in Colombia. Possession of quantities exceeding the permissible 20-gram limit could potentially be treated as a drug trafficking offense, resulting in severe penalties, including long-term imprisonment. Moreover, all commercial activities surrounding cannabis cultivation, sale, or export are strictly prohibited and can result in legal prosecution.

Embracing Hemp and CBD: Colombia’s Progressive Approach

In contrast to recreational use, hemp cultivation and production are fully legal in Colombia. In 2017, the country adopted regulations to permit the cultivation, processing, and commercialization of hemp and hemp-derived products. In this context, hemp refers to cannabis containing less than 1% THC, predominantly used for industrial purposes, including the manufacturing of fiber, textiles, paper, and CBD extracts.

Colombian regulations also establish a clear distinction between the permitted applications of THC and CBD. While THC is exclusively allowed for use in pharmaceutical products, CBD use is authorized in the creation of cosmetics, dietary supplements, and pharmaceutical products, subject to compliance with specific regulations and requirements outlined by the Colombian authorities.

Cultivating Weed at Home: Colombia’s Stance

In accordance with Colombia’s legal stance, individuals are allowed to cultivate cannabis plants at home strictly for personal use. The law permits Colombians to grow a maximum of 20 cannabis plants. However, these privately cultivated plants cannot be used for commercial purposes, such as sale or distribution, failing which legal consequences may ensue. Hence, it’s essential for individuals to stay informed about the current laws and regulations governing cannabis cultivation in the country.

Colombia’s Cannabis Future: A Glimpse into the Crystal Ball

Speculations are rife regarding Colombia’s drift towards comprehensive cannabis legalization in the near future. Recent developments, such as a bill passing the Colombian Senate to legalize marijuana, have reflected such a trajectory. In 2022, during the fourth round of debates, the bill received overwhelming approval, marking a significant shift in Colombia’s cannabis legislation.

In conclusion, while Colombia has taken substantial strides in establishing its medical cannabis landscape, the future of recreational cannabis remains uncertain. However, the growing momentum and consensus surrounding cannabis legalization reflect an optimistic future for cannabis legislation in Colombia.

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