Updated on December 28, 2018. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
While Colombia decriminalized the possession of marijuana in 2012, it only legalized it for medical use in 2015. With the legalization of medical weed, patients in need can now access the medicine to help relieve pain and discomfort from several medical conditions.
A goal of the medical marijuana program in Colombia is to expand the role of medical cannabis in healthcare. With the legalization of medical weed, Colombia hopes to support research efforts into the medicine, as well as provide patients with a reliable and safe resource for their medication.
As Colombia develops its program, it’s setting specific guidelines and licensing producers. The government is also working to ensure physicians are educated about medical cannabis, from its uses for certain medical conditions to its potential side effects.
Colombia and cannabis have a history that goes back centuries. Back in the Colonial Period, people grew marijuana for the textile industry due to its industrial fibers. Although the Catholic Church and federal government both discouraged its use, people recognized its role as a medicine.
During the 20th century, cannabis trafficking was at its peak, being smuggled in and out of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and the Urabá peninsula region through banana shipments. While it’d be another 50 years before marijuana’s decriminalization in 2012, it took less than five years after that for it to be legalized.
In Colombia, patients have the choice of growing their medical marijuana or purchasing it from a licensed producer — more than 10 are available today. If you cultivate cannabis plants for medical use, you may have as many as you like. When it comes to possessing medical marijuana, patients may carry as much medical weed as they need.
Telemedicine is a growing field in Colombia. In 2010, researchers found that more than 30 projects had been successful in implementing and offering telemedicine services to their communities. Through telemedicine, these facilities connected patients to more than 650 healthcare providers.
While other countries, such as Canada, designate a set of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana, the existing medical cannabis program in Colombia doesn’t make medical weed exclusive to people with select conditions. This is partially because recreational and medical marijuana are both legal.
Colombia does not require patients to apply for a medical marijuana card. Instead, the country is focused on licensing producers and distributors to ensure every Colombian is using marijuana that’s safe and effective.
While the medical marijuana program in Colombia is still young, we already know a little bit about it:
Penalties for medical marijuana in Colombia are limited. The most significant repercussions are for unlicensed producers and recreational users. Carrying more than 20 grams of cannabis or growing more than 20 plants, for instance, is against the law for recreational users.
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