Tag: colombia

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Cannabis Legalization Clears Another Political Hurdle In Colombia

Colombia has served as ground zero for the Drug War in many ways over the course of multiple decades, largely due to the nation’s cocaine production. It is obviously no secret that Colombia has served as the world’s top source of cocaine for many years, with the United States being a particularly popular destination for the illegal substance.

The Drug War in Colombia has made things harder for the nation’s emerging legal cannabis industry for various reasons, not the least of which is the stigma that comes with trying to legalize a historically banned substance in a nation like Colombia, even though cannabis is obviously not cocaine.

Fortunately, a group of lawmakers in Colombia seems to be set on passing an adult-use legalization measure, and the legalization effort in Colombia is overcoming political hurdles as a result. The latest one occurred a handful of days ago, as initially reported by Marijuana Moment:

A bill to legalize marijuana in Colombia cleared another key hurdle on its path to enactment on Tuesday, advancing through a Chamber of Representatives committee that brings it more than halfway through the legislative process.

The legislation, which the Chamber and Senate reconciled to be identical in December after previously clearing each full body in differing forms, needs to go through eight total stops in the Colombian Congress over two consecutive years. Tuesday’s 26-6 vote by the First Committee of the Chamber marks the fifth stop, sending it to the floor for consideration before returning to the Senate for final votes.

The results of a poll released in September, conducted by Jaime Arteaga y Asociados in Colombia, found that:

  • 91% of survey participants that have used cannabis-based products would recommend it to other people
  • 37% of survey participants have frequented a store where medical and/or cosmetic cannabis products are sold
  • 63% of Colombians believe that ‘sales taxes on cannabis products would improve social investment’

The survey results provided a lot of insight into not only the level of support for Colombia’s emerging cannabis industry but also insight into consumer trends. For instance, the survey found that nearly half of the survey participants (46%) that reported consuming cannabis reported using it in topical form.

If/when Colombia legalizes cannabis for adult use, it’s likely that the types of cannabis products that people use will expand significantly as entrepreneurs work to supply the evolving demand.


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Colombian Cannabis Exports Nearly Doubled Last Year

The cannabis world is constantly evolving, particularly in recent years, and there’s no end to that trend in sight. It will be a long time before the dust from the international cannabis industry settles, however, there’s one thing that is likely a safe bet – Colombia will dominate the export market in the future.

Colombia has long served as an international supplier of cannabis, albeit unregulated cannabis. As the international cannabis industry continues to spread, and more markets go legal, many of them will turn to Colombia in an increasing fashion for supply.

Cannabis can be cultivated in Colombia much easier compared to many other countries, with the quality being comparable to what is found in other nations but produced at a fraction of the cost. This last year Colombia ramped up its legal medical cannabis exports considerably, nearly doubling statistics from the prior year on record. Per The New Century:

Bogotá (48%), Cundinamarca (30%), Antioquia (12%), Santander (8%) and Magdalena (2%), were the departments that exported US$8.4 million in cannabis between January and November 2022, which which represented an increase of 96% compared to the same period in 2021, according to figures from Dane.

There are 13 companies that reached 14 countries, where Argentina (40%), Brazil (14%), Australia (12%), Switzerland (7%), Israel (6.5%), the United States (6%) and Germany (5.5%).

“58% of these exports were destined for Latin America and the Caribbean. It is a sector that has significant potential in generating quality employment, especially for women, in different regions of the country. Likewise, cannabis value-added goods have stood out for their quality and innovation,” said Carmen Caballero, president of ProColombia.

It’s going to be very difficult for many other countries to compete with Colombia’s production. In many parts of the world, the cannabis plant can only be effectively cultivated in indoor facilities, and no matter how efficient they are they will never be able to compete with the cannabis flower that is cultivated under the sun or in greenhouses in Colombia.

Cannabis companies around the world would be wise to base their plans on a global cannabis industry that is eventually largely based on some countries cultivating cannabis, some turning raw cannabis into finished goods, and some countries serving as the top market for sales, which occurs with virtually every other agricultural crop.


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Medical Cannabis Products Now Covered By Government-Funded Health Insurance In Colombia

In 2022 Colombia’s Health Ministry approved the expansion of health insurance coverage of certain medical procedures and medications, including expansion to cover some medical cannabis products. The effective date for the expanded coverage was January 1, 2023.

While it never seemed to be in doubt that the medical cannabis insurance coverage would ultimately take effect, it was reassuring to see that the new coverage was indeed implemented, with reassurances provided by the Health Ministry.

News of the reassurances came via a press release from Khiron Life Sciences Corp late this week. Below are excerpts from the press release:

Khiron Life Sciences Corp. (“Khiron” or the “Company”) (TSXV: KHRN) (OTCQX: KHRNF) (Frankfurt: A2JMZC), announces that the new Colombian Government has included plant-based medical cannabis products (i.e., Khiron products) in the list of mandatory insurance-covered medications starting January 1st, 2023, as well as the signing of a first-of-its-kind medical cannabis contract with one of Colombia´s largest insurance companies based in the city of Bogota.

Resolution 2808 of 2022 was signed by the Ministry of Health on December 30, 2022. This revision was necessary to remove unintended ambiguities that had arisen whether plant-based magistral preparations from medical cannabis (i.e., Khiron products) were also included in the insurance coverage. This is now once and for all clearly confirmed. The new government is fully committed with the use of medical cannabis as a covered treatment under the Colombian health system.

The Government used this iteration to also validate medical conditions where they find moderate to strong evidence that cannabis is an effective treatment. These medical conditions evaluated by the IETS (Technical Institute of the health Sector) include chronic and neuropathic pain, oncology pain, sleep disorders, epilepsy, and fibromyalgia, which represent the primary conditions treated with Khiron products.

During the first half of 2022, insurance-covered prescriptions represented more than 90% of the Company´s cannabis sales in Colombia. With a patient base of more than 25,000 patients, Khiron will immediately resume filling insurance-covered prescriptions through its Zerenia clinic network.

Alvaro Torres, CEO of Khiron, comments: “Today is a great day for patients in Colombia and Khiron. We welcome the decision from the new Colombian government to categorically mandate insurance coverage for our medical cannabis products. With this decision, Khiron will immediately tackle the backlog of covered medical cannabis products to our patients. In parallel, we have also secured a first-of-its-kind contractual relationship with one of Colombia´s largest government-owned insurance companies for medical cannabis specific healthcare services and dispensation. These two achievements, will allow us to revert to predictable recurring revenues, shorter collection periods and improved cashflow.”


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Cannabis Legalization Bill Approved By Colombia’s Senate

Colombia is home to one of the most favorable climates on earth when it comes to cannabis cultivation. Whereas in other areas the cannabis plant requires supplemental lighting and a buffet of nutrients, in Colombia the cannabis plant grows naturally on a large scale.

Cannabis cultivation is not new to the South American country, which historically has served as one of the top suppliers of unregulated cannabis and other banned substances for the global marketplace, particularly in North America.

Advocates in Colombia have made strides in building momentum for cannabis reform in recent years, and that was on display this week when the nation’s Senate approved a cannabis legalization measure, as first reported by Marijuana Moment:

The Colombian Senate has overwhelmingly approved a bill to legalize marijuana nationwide, though there are still more legislative steps that need to be taken before it’s potentially enacted into law.

The bill, which has also already received initial approval in the country’s Chamber of Representatives, was approved on the Senate floor during the fourth round of debate on Tuesday in a 56-3 vote.

The cannabis reform marathon may not have yet reached the finish line in Colombia, however, this is a milestone that is certainly worthy of tempered celebration. As is the case in politics in any country, nothing is guaranteed in Colombia when it comes to cannabis legalization, and legalization still faces a long road ahead.

Part of the political process in Colombia for a bill of this nature is a series of debates that have to be spread out over time. As a result, it’s quite likely that it may take as long as until 2024 for a bill to be finalized. Even then, any delays in the process would push legalization out even further.

As 2022 draws to a close and we head into 2023 it’s going to be very interesting to see where the cannabis discussion goes, both inside of Colombia’s borders, and beyond.


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Legalization Moves A Step Closer In Colombia

Colombia has served in many ways as ‘ground zero’ for the war on drugs over several decades, and while cocaine was largely the focus of eradication and enforcement efforts, cannabis has played a significant role in the South American country as well.

Infamous cannabis smugglers in the 1970s, such as Robert Platshorn, would purchase cannabis by the ton in Colombia and smuggle it back to the United States where the ‘Colombian Red’ and other well-known strains would then make their way around North America.

Colombia, along with every other nation in South America, has explored reforming its cannabis laws with a new focus in recent years after Uruguay became the first country on earth to pass a nationwide adult-use cannabis legalization measure. Uruguay initially passed the measure in 2013, however, legal sales would not launch until a handful of years later.

By virtually every measure, cannabis legalization is working in Uruguay. And just as it is working in Uruguay, so too could it work in Colombia. Fortunately for sensible cannabis policy, legalization moved one step closer to becoming reality in Colombia this week, with Senators voting to advance a legalization measure. Per Marijuana Moment:

A bill to legalize marijuana in Colombia has been approved in a Senate committee for the first time, weeks after it also advanced in the country’s Chamber of Representatives.

Lawmakers have met several times in recent weeks to debate the reform proposal, which would amend the country’s Constitution to end cannabis prohibition for adults.

It passed the First Committee of the Senate on Tuesday by a vote of 11-4, though there are still more legislative steps that must be taken before it’s potentially enacted into law.

It’s absolutely worth noting that just because there is support for a legalization measure in general among lawmakers, and even though a measure is working its way through the political process, nothing is guaranteed. Mexico is a great example of that.

Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled years ago that cannabis prohibition as it pertained to individuals was unconstitutional. Lawmakers were tasked with passing a legalization measure and standing up a regulated industry, which has failed to happen so far. Hopefully we don’t see legalization stall in a similar fashion in Colombia and legalization continues to move forward without delay.


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President Of Colombia Applauds U.S. Cannabis Pardon Announcement

Last week United States President Joe Biden announced a plan to pardon people convicted of federal cannabis possession charges. It is estimated that the decision will affect roughly 6,500 people.

One question that seems to be lingering out there is what happens to future federal cannabis enforcement practices? Will people still be subjected to arrest and federal charges if/when they are caught possessing cannabis on federal property in the U.S.?

Only time will tell if that proves to be the case. Regardless, cannabis still remains a Schedule I substance in the U.S., although part of President Biden’s announcement involved tasking leaders of his related departments to examine cannabis’ current federal classification level.

The move by President Biden is being criticized by some and being hailed by others. One person that is giving praise to the decision is current the current president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro.

“The White House takes a fundamental step to change the vision of the fight against drugs. The user of marijuana will not be treated as a criminal.” President Petro tweeted days after the announcing of pardons (translated to English).

Cannabis reform is on the move in Petro’s country in addition to other parts of the planet. Colombian lawmakers recently approved a cannabis legalization measure in committee, which is something that President Petro has pushed for. The measure has a long road ahead, however, the fact that it was approved at the committee level is encouraging.

Colombia has long served as a top source for unregulated cannabis, and continues to be so to some extent. Fortunately, there are people in the country working to get the nation on the right side of history, not the least of which is the country’s president.


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Committee Approves Cannabis Regulation Measure In Colombia

The cannabis industry is on the move at the global level, and there are few places on earth where that is as evident as in Colombia. The South American country is undergoing a transformation at a steady pace and taking its rightful spot as an international cannabis powerhouse.

So far, Colombia’s industry is based on the medical cannabis industry. Adult-use legalization is a tougher sell in Colombia due to stigma regarding the ongoing drug war, however, as we previously reported support for regulation is building among Colombia’s citizens.

Support for adult-use regulation is also increasing in political circles as well, as evidenced by a recent vote in Colombia. Per Infobae (translated to English):

This Wednesday, September 14, the First Committee of the House of Representatives approved, in the first debate, the constitutional reform project that seeks to regulate cannabis for adult use in Colombia. Juan Carlos Losada, representative to the Chamber of the Liberal Party, was the author of the project that seeks to become a law of the Republic.

The congressman celebrated this first step on his Twitter account. In the social network he assured that he will send a formal invitation to President Gustavo Petro so that the Government joins the discussion, “since he will be in charge of regulation.”

The successful committee vote is just one of the many hurdles that needs to be overcome in order for adult-use cannabis legalization to become a reality in Colombia. With that being said, it’s still cause for celebration, albeit tempered celebration.

To date the only countries that have legalized cannabis for adult-use at a national level beyond just low-THC cannabis are Uruguay, Canada, and Malta.


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63% Of Colombians Support A Sales Tax On Cannabis Products According To Survey

Colombia has served as ground zero for the war on drugs in many ways for many years, largely due to the nation’s cocaine industry. It is obviously no secret that Colombia has served as the world’s top source for cocaine for decades, with the United States being a particularly popular market for the illegal substance.

The war on drugs in Colombia has made things harder for the nation’s emerging legal cannabis industry for various reasons, not the least of which is the stigma that comes with trying to legalize a historically banned substance in a nation like Colombia, even though cannabis is not cocaine.

A big part of boosting Colombia’s emerging cannabis industry involves changing the hearts and minds of citizens in the South American country, and according to the results of a recent poll, efforts appear to be gaining traction on that front. As highlighted in a recent article from Portafolio, the survey, which was conducted by Jaime Arteaga y Asociados, found the following:

  • 91% of survey participants that have used cannabis-based products would recommend it to other people
  • 37% of survey participants have frequented a store where medical and/or cosmetic cannabis products are sold
  • 63% of Colombians believe that ‘sales taxes on cannabis products would improve social investment’

The survey results provided a lot of insight into not only the level of support for Colombia’s emerging cannabis industry, but also insight into consumer trends. For instance, the survey found that nearly half of the survey participants (46%) that reported consuming cannabis reported using it in topical form.

Due to its favorable climate, Colombia is uniquely positioned to cultivate an enormous amount of raw cannabis at a price that is literally impossible to replicate in most other parts of the world.

The nation would be wise to expand its emerging cannabis industry and take its rightful place as a legal global cannabis leader, which according to the recent survey results, appears to be a very popular issue that most Colombians seem to support.


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Colombian President Considers Removing License Prerequisite For Cannabis Cultivation

Newly sworn-in President Gustavo Petro is on the cusp of a revolutionary new national stance on cannabis cultivation – namely removing the requirement of licenses for the same

Gustavo Petro, the newly sworn-in, left-leaning President of Colombia, has made clear that ending the drug war will be a priority of his administration.

He even highlighted the same in his inauguration speech saying, “It is time for a new international convention that accepts that the drug war has failed, which has left a million murdered Latin Americans during these 40 years and that leaves 70,000 Americans dead from drug overdoses each year.”

Last week, he discussed his vision of a legal industry in Colombia at a summit of mayors.

Petro stressed the economic potential of a fully legal cannabis industry – and in a revolutionary move not often seen at the federal level – proposed removing the requirement to have a license for domestic cannabis companies.

He has also called for the release of prisoners held on non-violent drug charges.

As a former member of M-19 a guerrilla group, Petro is no stranger to violence, including over drugs.

Where Does Legalization Stand in Colombia?

Senator Gustavo Bolivar introduced new legislation last month which has a good chance of passing now that the country has a majority of liberal lawmakers. The position has also been recognized internationally, including by US Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA) who said that he looked forward to working together with such a forward-thinking executive to “rethink drug policy.”

How Would Unlicensed Cannabis Fit into International Standards?

Petro is suggesting a potentially radically new approach to the regulation of the cannabis industry – namely turning it into a regular commodity crop – like soybeans and corn. This does not mean that he is suggesting the cultivation of the crop without any oversight. All such food crops must comply with international standards on everything from pesticide use to the kind of soil they are grown in – even if not sold as “organic.”

This approach is a truly different one that the model that currently stands – thanks in large part to the approach adopted in Europe’s medical markets. Currently, the only high THC cannabis that can cross international borders is GMP certified (medical, pharmaceutical grade).

However, the debate about this is now starting to be heard across a much wider spectrum of debate given the pending legalization of recreational use aus Deutschland. It could be that Petro is angling to become first in line to import Colombian-grown cannabis into the new recreational market in Germany.

Whatever happens, however, Colombia is now at the forefront of an international discussion about regulation that will undoubtedly have an impact on the status quo. Globally.


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Push For Adult-Use Legalization Gains Momentum In Colombia

Colombia is not new to the international cannabis scene. For many decades Colombian cannabis has served as a top source for cannabis consumers around the world, albeit in an unregulated fashion.

The South American country is most associated with a different intoxicating substance, cocaine, however, Colombia also cultivates tons and tons of cannabis.

I don’t know who was the first person to smuggle cannabis out of Colombia, but I do know that international smugglers such as Robert ‘The Tuna’ Platshorn went to Colombia as early as the 1970s to purchase cannabis by the boat load and sailed literal tons of cannabis back to North America.

Sun-grown cannabis grows very well in Colombia’s climate with far less effort and inputs compared to industrial cannabis cultivation operations found elsewhere on the planet.

A cultivation expert that I know and who travels to Colombia often once told me that a pound of cannabis can be cultivated in Colombia for just $7. That puts Colombia in a very advantageous position to reap the benefits of the emerging international cannabis industry.

That is a sentiment that appears to be shared by an increasing number of lawmakers in Colombia, including President-elect Gustavo Petro, who has served as a vocal critic of the war on drugs.

Petro recently met with the Biden administration to discuss, among other things, drug policy reform. Per excerpts from Reuters:

Colombian President-elect Gustavo Petro on Friday met with representatives of U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration in Bogota, the Colombian capital, where they discussed topics including drug trafficking, the environment and economic development.

Petro, a 62-year-old economist who will become Colombia’s first leftist leader next month, has been roundly critical of the U.S.-led war on drugs and was elected on promises to tackle deep inequality and climate change and to seek peace with remaining leftist rebels.

An adult-use cannabis legalization measure was recently introduced in Colombia by Colombian Sen. Gustavo Bolivar, and hopefully it gains support.

With cannabis reform on the move around the globe, and Colombia uniquely positioned to gain a huge share of the international market via exports, the time is ripe for reform in the South American nation.


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Colombia Continues To Increasingly Embrace Cannabis

Few countries, if any, are closer to the heart of the War on Drugs historically than Colombia. The country in South America has supplied the world with cocaine for decades, and to a lesser extent, cannabis.

International cannabis smugglers such as Robert ‘The Tuna’ Platshorn used to transport Colombian cannabis via fishing boats to the United States as far back as the 1970s. Colombia is still a very popular source of cannabis.

Colombia’s climate is ideal for outdoor cannabis cultivation on a large scale, and cannabis is extremely cheap there compared to other places on earth.

A very respected cannabis author and friend once messaged me from Colombia and told me that a pound of cannabis in Colombia costs just a mere $17. Of course, that is for unregulated cannabis so there would be some additional regulatory costs involved, however, it would still likely be extremely cheap.

As Colombia continues to reform its cannabis laws it’s going to increase its global dominance within the emerging legal international cannabis industry. Colombia’s justice minister recently touted the nation’s progress regarding the continued establishment of a solid cannabis regulatory framework:

In yet another example of how mainstream cannabis is becoming in Colombia, multiple presidential candidates are promoting the cannabis industry as a way to boost Colombia’s economy and give coca farmers an alternative crop to cultivate. Per the Associated Press (translated from Spanish to English):

Two candidates for the presidency of Colombia proposed on Tuesday to replace coca leaf crops with cannabis intended for industrial and medicinal use during a debate held by the Externado de Colombia University.

The leftist Gustavo Petro, who obtained the largest number of votes in the presidential primaries, proposed promoting the industrialization and export of cannabis and using it at the same time as a “substitution” economy for coca leaf crops.

“We replace the coca leaf not through fumigation (with glyphosate) and repression, but through an agrarian reform that allows the agro-industrialization of the products of the peasantry in the hands and property of the same peasantry,” explained Petro, former mayor from Bogotá and who in his youth belonged to the extinct M-19 guerrilla.

Colombia’s legal cannabis industry is extremely young, and it will be a while before the country’s industry realizes its full potential. With that being said, companies around the globe need to keep a close eye on Colombia, especially if they have plans for exports.

When cannabis prohibition is finally eradicated from the globe, and cannabis imports and exports are as common as any other popular, mainstream agriculture crop, it’s going to be extremely difficult to compete with Colombia for raw cannabis.


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