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article imageColombia legalizes medical marijuana under presidential decree

By Karen Graham     Nov 14, 2015 in Health
In an information sheet released on Friday, Colombia announced it was planning to legalize medical marijuana. The announcement is seen as a further shift in the country's drug policies after aerial spraying of illicit crops was suspended.
Reuters is reporting President Juan Manuel Santos told BBC Mundo the decree would be signed in a few days. The Presidential office is preparing the decree that would approve the use of marijuana for therapeutic use only.
Studies have found marijuana is helpful in treating pain and controlling nausea in some patients with epilepsy, diseases like cancer, or a long-term condition, like glaucoma or nerve pain.
The growing, selling and distribution of marijuana will remain illegal. Digital Journal reported Colombia suspended the aerial fumigating of illegal coca fields earlier this year when the World Health Organization warned that glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide, is "probably carcinogenic,"
The current law in Colombia allows a person to possess up to 20 grams of marijuana or 20 marijuana plants for personal use. News Daily says a recent study shows 11.5 percent of Colombians have used marijuana at least once. Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Israel and some U.S. states already allow medical marijuana use.
Some companies, including foreign firms, have expressed interest in producing and selling cannabis. But unlike Uruguay, which legalized cannabis in 2013, Colombia has no plans to fully legalize marijuana for recreational use or commercial sale.
Colombia has a long history of narcotics production and trafficking. Almost all the cocaine consumed worldwide comes from the South American country, and to a lesser extent, Peru and Bolivia. UN estimates suggest more than 300,000 people in Colombia live off the profits from growing coca.
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