Shedding its Drug-war Past, Colombia Turns to Medical Marijuana
A growing trend in Latin America focuses on the legalization of limited amounts of narcotics for personal and medicinal use. This is a topic of increasing debate in the U.S., with great legal variation between states and the federal government. Legalized marijuana is viewed as a growing investment opportunity for many, but uncertainties remain and U.S. Federal drug laws have not evolved to meet global trends. Several countries, like Uruguay, have relaxed their drug laws. Colombia is also following the legalization trend. In 2015, the Colombian president, Juan Manuel Santos, signed a decree legalizing medical cannabis - most remarkably it covered domestic markets as well as export. Licenses are issued by the National Narcotics Council only after approval of a detailed business plan abiding by strict regulations. For investors, the biggest hurdle may be a country’s hesitation to allow imported cannabis and cannabis products like oil and extracts across their borders. While many countries like Canada, and U.S. states like California, are introducing some level of recreational marijuana use, there is hesitation to accept imported cannabis. However, while the United States offers a huge market if federal legal issues are overcome, there is already demand in accessible markets like parts of Europe and Latin America. Colombia is set to lead the way in turning a problem into a solution. Taxation will benefit the country while strict regulation will allow both small-scale family farms and former coca leaf growers to follow a legitimate and legal route for their product. PharmaCielo Colombia Holdings, as well as over 30 other Colombian companies are now permitted to grow cannabis for domestic and import markets. Some experts speculate the legal cannabis market will grow to over $30 billion within only the next few years, and with Colombia’s ideal climate for growing cannabis, the country may well become the king of this now legal cash crop. Only time will tell if any of this financial speculation is ever realized.