“And now what is going to happen to the cannabis industry in Colombia?” I have been asked this question repeatedly since the presidential and popular election campaigns began in Colombia. And the truth is that I still do not have the answer and maybe I am writing this from faith and my projections are clouded by an emotion that has remained intact for 5 years (although I must admit that it has faltered quite a bit).
Well, to very superficially contextualize the most recent initiatives that emerged in the legislative power in Colombia, I must say that the past was not a great period for cannabis because, although several bills were processed regarding its regulation, especially on adult use, only the Law that regulates industrial hemp was sanctioned.
After several months of uncertainty about the political future of Colombia, on August 7, a president took a position who, from the beginning of his campaign, expressed his intention to regulate drugs in Colombia and who, vehemently, in his presidential speech repudiated the failed drug policy that has generated more deaths than benefits.
Let us remember that this is the first leftist government to come to power after many years of leadership by the country’s traditional parties, and this has further raised the question: and will this benefit the industry? of cannabis? Here you will not get that answer, however, it is interesting to analyze the profile of the new president Gustavo Petro, who is a 62-year-old economist whose fundamental pillars of his economic and agrarian policy have been the development of the countryside and the cannabis industry.
Given the above, it is noteworthy that this is a point in favor for the industry and an opportunity for Colombia to open up its business and export projections, given that, in addition to a new political will to regulate, Colombia has a great quality advantage. in its plants for its soils, climates and ancestral knowledge, and that is why it has always been framed within the countries with the best conditions to have quality certifications and competitive products.
“The issue of marijuana seems stupid to me to keep it underground,” said the current president in one of his interviews with Semana Magazine. Following this, he indicated that “if Colombia does not get its act together, it will lose the business.” In these words, along with many others, a clear position has been demonstrated in favor of legalization and the promotion of exports, having among its plans with cannabis, the implementation of associative or agribusiness models between large, small and medium producers for the transformation of agricultural products derived from coca leaves and cannabis.
And like him, Vice President Francia Márquez is equally in favor of legalization, who proposed in a Twitter thread the change of course in drug policy for Colombia, additionally, she emphasized that “prohibitionism damaged the environment, benefited unscrupulous politicians and mafia cartels.”
At this point I dare to affirm that the pillars of strengthening agriculture, the commitment to peace and support for the development of the cannabis industry of this new government may be positive for both the medical and industrial cannabis industry, as well as for the research and respect for the different uses of this plant, whose persecution and stigmatization has only generated poverty and death.
To achieve this, spaces for communication between the government and users, between the government and businessmen, and especially between businessmen and users, are essential. Well, these new policies that are coming for Colombia must have a holistic and realistic approach; a grounded approach that leaves no room for speculation or panic.
We also hope that the commitment on the part of the current government and Congress is accompanied by policies that guarantee the development of the purposes of the laws that are formulated in this new legislative period, since not only must access to cannabis be regulated but also guarantee that this access is real for both users and entrepreneurs. It must go hand in hand with education to work on the stigma and, especially, in the development of a new drug policy that does not punish, but listens and promotes support for those who have problematic consumption so that, finally, after so many years of persecution and double standards, the Colombian nation can benefit from what has caused so much harm.
Lastly, although the excitement over the development of the adult use market is undeniable, which today more than ever is projected with strong possibilities and not, as it was for so long, a simple and distant illusion, it is also undeniable that we still have enough work to continue promoting cannabis for medicinal, industrial and scientific use, because let’s not forget that these uses also have users and entrepreneurs who, after 5 years, are still struggling to have real access to both the products and the various markets.
In conclusion, communication will be vital, the active willingness of all branches of power in Colombia, a process of constant education and a nation that is willing to renounce a policy that was born from hatred and actively bets on a new policy that thinks from the love and respect for freedoms.
Luisa Maria Patino Marulanda
Colombian lawyer specialized in the regulation of cannabis in Colombia.
Earths Healing Colombia S.A.S.