Colombia Joins International Cannabis Market


Colombia is a country that’s been at the forefront of drug markets for quite some time, with a government ready, willing, and able to make updates to laws as needed. In its newest turn, Colombia is building its international cannabis export market, and creating new legislation to bring in more revenue.

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Cannabis and Colombia

Colombia has been one of the more lax countries when it comes to cannabis use, partly because the country has had so many drug issues and drug violence, that it has made laws specifically to try to combat these issues. One of them was to decriminalize most drugs in 1994. This decriminalization wasn’t as precise as it should have been, and in 2012, a specification was made to clarify just how much a person could have for personal use and/or possession without being arrested. The amount was set at 20 grams or less to avoid prosecution. This was still only intended for private use, and did not decriminalize public use.

Things got a little sticky in 2018, when then president Ivan Duque signed a decree giving law enforcement the ability to confiscate personal use quantities if caught. The decree did not break with decriminalization in that it didn’t threaten criminal sanctions, but it did instate a fine of up to 208,000 pesos. The following year (2019) the Constitutional Court ruled that parts of the decree were unconstitutional and abolished punishments for up to 20 grams, while still allowing law enforcement to confiscate contraband.

Sale, supply, and trafficking crimes are all predictably illegal. Having more than 20 grams can be considered possession with an intent to sell. The maximum prison sentence is 20 years, which is a stricter penalty in the country than for rape. Being caught trafficking can land a person in prison for up to 30 years.

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Beth Edmonds