Colombia looks at medical marijuana’s economic potential

Just as a Washington Post report last week showed Colombia had overtaken Peru in 2014 to once again become the world’s largest coca producer, the Colombian government announced a plan that could turn a different drug into a major (legal) business.

On Thursday, Colombia’s ministers of Agriculture, Health and Justice announced a new decree that would legalize and regulate marijuana for medical use.

It’s a controversial move in a country already known for its illegal drug industry — but the potential economic upsides are significant.

Personal drug use is already decriminalized in Colombia, although conflicting laws and court rulings have created something of a gray area.

Colombia also allows individuals and small business to grow small amounts of cannabis, but the new proposal would authorize qualified businesses and organizations to produce and sell commercial quantities of cannabis products for medicinal use.

That’s a shift in Colombia, where illegal drug production — including marijuana — has...

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