Colombian President Santos signs a decree legalising medical marijuana

Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos has signed a decree legalizing the growing and sale of marijuana for medical purposes, a dramatic shift in a country long identified with US-backed policies to stamp out drug crops.

Santos said the new regulatory framework was long overdue given that Colombians had been consuming marijuana and marijuana-based products in a legal void for years…

With the new rules, Colombia joins countries from Mexico to Chile that have experimented with legalization or decriminalization as part of a wave of changing attitudes toward drug use and policies to combat it in Latin America…

Proponents of the new approach say as many as 400,000 Colombians suffering from epilepsy and other ailments could benefit from the clearer regulatory framework.

Colombians for two decades have been allowed to possess small quantities of any narcotic for personal use due to a series of constitutional court rulings guaranteeing the “free development of one’s personality”.

But the congress and the executive branch have been loath to endorse such views, in part because of officials’ skittishness about showing any weakness in a country that is the biggest supplier of cocaine to the US…

President Santos, who has acknowledged smoking pot as a journalism student in the 1970s at the University of Kansas, repeated his commitment that the new rules only apply for medical and scientific purposes, not recreational use.

Well, that’s his position this week. Maybe – when Obama isn’t looking – he’ll let a little more reality sneak into law in Colombia, eh?

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