Colombia’s Congress on Wednesday voted to legalize marijuana for medicinal and scientific purposes. The constitutional court had already decriminalized the recreational use of the drug.
The approval of the bill proposed last year was the latest step to change the country’s drug laws from repressive to more public health-oriented.
Some senators wanted to legalize the drug all together, but found no majority support.
In fact, Senator Juan Manuel Galan even had difficulty having his proposal passed through the latest voting round in the House of Representatives as too many representatives were absent during the voting round initially scheduled for Tuesday.
However, after urging lawmakers to show up at work, Galan did receive sufficient support and the bill was passed with 83 voted in favor and three against.
It took congress almost two years to pass all seven voting rounds.
Conservative opposition party Democratic Center, an opponent of more lenient drug laws, did not vote as they are boycotting Congress in protest of ongoing peace talks with leftist rebel groups.
President Juan Manuel Santos, an advocate of more lenient drug laws, had already decreed the legalization of medical marijuana in December.
This decree, however, will be replaced by law once the Constitutional Court approves.
Chances the court will dump the law are small.
The court had long advanced efforts to decriminalize the popular drug in numerous rulings allowing the carrying and possession of drugs meant for personal use.
Ahead of the vote, the government of the central Boyaca province said it was seeking to become the first to legally produce marijuana for medical purposes.
The Boyaca government, Canadian laboratory Canavida and the Pedagogical and Technological University of Colombia (UPTC) has been promoting the project that seeks to grow marijuana in several greenhouses across the department.