Colombia Legalizes Medical Marijuana
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Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos signed a decree legalizing the growing and sale of marijuana for medical purposes. The decree comes against the backdrop of the ongoing peace negotiations between the FARC-EP and the Colombian government and signed agreements about illicit drugs. President Santos signed the decree on Tuesday, saying that a new legal framework for regulating the use of marijuana-based products in Colombia was long overdue. Marijuana was illegal in Colombia for years. The Colombian policy was mainly based on U.S. policy that aimed at de-legalizing the drug while the United States Central Intelligence Agency is one of the main players in the illicit drug market. In 2013 Uruguay legalized and regulated the growth and use of Marijuana for recreational purposes. Both Chile and Mexico also relaxed their legislation about marijuana. It is noteworthy that the now former Uruguayan President José Mujica was awarded the Latin American Human Rights Price in 2014. Proponents of Colombia’s new legislation point out that marijuana-based medicines can alleviate a cohort of symptoms from illnesses such as PTSD and epilepsy. Some 400,000 Colombians who are suffering from epilepsy could potentially benefit from marijuana-based medicines. Legalizing marijuana growth will also help countering the illicit marijuana growth of marijuana, deprive criminal gangs from drug revenues and free farmers from the violence that is linked to the illicit market. The possession of small amounts of marijuana and other drugs has been legal in Colombia for two decades. The legalization of the possession and use of small quantities came after a ruling by Colombia’s Constitutional Court. The ruling stressed that this form of drug use was protected by the constitution which shall guarantee the free development of one’s personality. The legislation has been vehemently opposed by Colombian conservatives – even though many who know Colombia well say “everybody is doing drugs here – for economic or other purposes”. President Juan Manuel Santos acknowledged that he was smoking marijuana during his journalism studies at the University of Kansas (USA) during the 1970s – and yes, he did inhale!