Colombia’s justice minister said Thursday the country plans to legalize the cultivation and sale of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Minister Yesid Reyes made the announcement Thursday in an interview with Caracol Radio. Reyes says a government decree regarding the new regulations will apply only to medical and scientific uses of the drug.
The country’s congress has been debating the legalization of marijuana, with one leading coalition senator even proposing the full legalization of marijuana.
The news was a surprise in a country long identified with US-backed policies aimed at fighting the production of illicit drugs. The new policy would include Colombia in a wave of changing attitudes toward marijuana that has sparked recent legalization efforts from Mexico to Chile.
Colombian courts had already decriminalized the production and possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use. The new rules will allow for commercial production.
Health Minister Alejandro Gaviria told Blu Radio that the country someday could export marijuana products.
However, supporters and opponents inside and outside of Congress warned that the government’s decree should first have to pass Congress.
“I will read to see what pearls we find in the decree,” opponent Alejandro Ordoñez, the country’s Inspector General, told newspaper El Tiempo.
Juan Manuel Galan, the sponsor of the bill seeking the legalization of medical marijuana, said that “the regulation must proceed the legal way, which is what will give the judicial security and stability to a regulatory framework of medicinal and therapeutic consumption.”