Since 2016 Colombia has issued a new set of legislation that provides a comprehensive legal framework on the access to cannabis for medical and scientific purposes. Consequently, as of August 2018 over 140 licenses for farming, using and/or producing cannabis and its derivative products had been granted.
The first thing you should know is that, contingent upon strict compliance with the requirements established in Law 1787 of 2016 and its subsequent regulations, the following activities are now permitted in Colombia: (i) growing psychoactive and non-psychoactive cannabis plants, (ii) producing cannabis derivatives, and (iii) using cannabis seeds, along with any other related activities (export, import, trade, warehousing, transport and final disposal), as long as such activities are intended for medicinal or scientific purposes.
In order to do so, the interested person, whether domestic or foreign, is required to request and obtain a license prior to initiating any activity. The licenses for the production of cannabis derivatives shall be requested before and processed by the Ministry of Health and Social Protection, while the licenses for growing psychoactive and non-psychoactive cannabis and those for the use of the seeds shall be requested before and processed by the Ministry of Justice and Law.
It is worth noting that these licenses cannot be transferred under any circumstances and are generally granted for a five (5) year period, which may be renewed as many times as required.
Additionally, Law 1787 establishes that prior to initiating any activities whatsoever, the holders of licenses for the use of cannabis seeds shall register with the Colombian Agriculture and Livestock Institute (ICA for its acronym in Spanish); in turn, the holders of licenses for producing cannabis derivatives shall be previously certified by the National Institute of Food and Drug Monitoring (INVIMA for its acronym in Spanish).
Furthermore, the holders of licenses for manufacturing cannabis derivatives and/or growing psychoactive cannabis shall request the allocation of a yearly quota before the Ministry of Health and Social Protection or the Ministry of Justice and Law, respectively. These quotas are allocated based on the total quota assigned to Colombia by the International Narcotics Control Board and the technical grounds provided by the applicant.
Finally, Law 1787 also establishes a special protection rule for small and medium farmers, producers and traders of medicinal cannabis, i.e., those individuals whose total crop areas are smaller than 0,5 hectares and that are duly registered with the Ministry of Justice and Law. These individuals can benefit from priority quota allocations and from the mandatory purchase of a percentage of their produce by manufacturers of cannabis derivatives.
Author: Natalia Soto