EMAILED ON September 10, 2019 BY Wes Schlagenhauf

Colombia is becoming a global player in the medical marijuana market

RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP/Getty Images

In the ’60s and ’70s, Colombia smuggled tons of gange into the US. But, by the ’80s, Colombian marijuana traffickers had all but switched to cocaine.

Soon after, the country became a hotbed of the war on drugs, which has led to mass corruption, homicide, and the displacement of an estimated 4m civilians over nearly 4 decades.

But, like many other countries, Colombia has loosened its leash on herb over the years, and now it’s poised to become a major player in the medical marijuana fold.

Contributors of note

When Colombia legalized medicinal pot back in 2016, a group of 29 businesses formed the Colombian Cannabis Industry Association. Since its formation, the group’s member companies have invested more than $600m in building medical marijuana facilities — like the Colombian manufacturing giant, Clever Leaves. 

In February the firm became the first Colombian cannabis company authorized to export weed into Canada, and, last week, it became the first Colombian company certified by a leading regulatory agency to produce medical cannabis at the pharmaceutical level.

That said, it’s still a crapshoot

As NPR notes, it isn’t a guarantee that the flowers of the Colombian medical marijuana industry will ever fully bloom — mainly due to a government bureaucracy that often forces startups to wait months or years to secure the proper permits and licenses.

But, with storied infrastructure, an optimal growing climate, and cheap land prices, the Colombian medical Mary-J market has all the shakings to become a new drug powerhouse. 

Only this time, it’s one that might just help people.