The Republic of Colombia is a bountiful north-western nation of South America. It is renowned for its year-round perfect weather and its immense natural beauty. But at one time, Colombia was synonymous with something much more sinister. Violent drug barons trafficking drugs into and throughout the United States of America, and the ensuing war between them and global law enforcement. Cannabis trafficking reached its peak during the 70’s, being shipped out with bananas. The narcotics wars are largely over and now serialized on television, and Colombia has moved on. So, is weed legal in Colombia? Well, no, but since 2012, possession of up to 20 grams of cannabis has been decriminalized.
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Colombia Cannabis Laws
The story of Colombia’s decriminalization actually begins much earlier than 2012. In spite of the United States ‘War on Drugs’ being in full swing, a Colombian High Court legalized the personal use of cannabis, as well as cocaine and other substances in 1994. Not just decriminalized, but fully legalized. Naturally, this ruling received incisive condemnation from both the administrations of the US and Colombia. The then Colombian President Cesar Gaviria labeled the ruling ‘absurd’. Despite numerous efforts to strike down the ruling in the 2000s, it stayed in place until the Colombian Government officially decriminalized cannabis in 2012.
Following the 2012 decriminalization, there were further wins. Yet another Colombian Court (this time the Supreme Court) ruled in 2015 that the cultivation of personal plants is not a crime. The ruling states clearly ‘no crime has been committed unless a person cultivates more than 20 plants’. Much like Colombia’s 1994 ruling, this was of course met with condemnation.
Colombia Weed Laws Summarized
- Up to 20 grams (0.7 ounces) of marijuana is decriminalized
- Being caught with up to 20 grams of marijuana may lead to you having to receive treatment
- Growing up to 20 plants is not a criminal offense, provided it’s deemed for personal use
Medical Marijuana In Colombia
Accompanying the near legal status of weed in Colombia, they also have a medicinal program. There are no qualifying conditions of medical cannabis in Colombia. In basic terms, purchasing medical cannabis is as simple as purchasing from a licensed producer. Or, if a patient prefers, they can simply grow their own supply. This progressive approach is fuelled in part due to the accessibility of cannabis in general, but also the science behind cannabis as a reliable treatment.
Colombia itself is home to more than two dozen medical marijuana companies. Historically Colombia has been quite successful in terms of cannabis production, due to its near-perfect climate. Presently, Colombia produces and ships medical-grade cannabis to the US. All this would never have been if not for the 2015 legalization of medical cannabis.
Public Opinion For Legal Weed In Colombia
Given Colombia’s history, both before and after its 1994 ruling, discerning where the public stands on cannabis can be hard. On one hand, Colombia’s use of substances is well documented. On the other hand, Colombia was subjected to brutal gang wars, paramilitary groups, and United States Federal Agents for much of its recent history. All in an attempt to stop the use and sale of cannabis and other substances. Because of this, public opinion is somewhat split on the issue.
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Since its decriminalization, however, crime has gone down, many cannabis-based businesses have flourished, and Colombia is beginning to challenge world governments on their policing of drugs and cannabis.
The Future Of Weed In Colombia
A country that once faced condemnation and persecution for something that existed naturally are now international innovators. With their progressive and empathetic approach to cannabis with a focus on treatment, as well as the increased civil liberties that come with legalization, the only way is up for Colombia and the cannabis produced there. The government has considered full legalization, the climate is great for growing year-round. Could Colombia be the second South American country to fully make weed legal? It’s definitely looking likely at this stage.
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