Colombia, a transcontinental country in the northwestern region of South America, is known for civil war and illicit drug business. That’s not only it; Colombia is also a hub of agricultural commodities. Hence, it is a fertile land for the growth of the cannabis plant too. It provides the perfect climate for the growth of Hemp flowers. But to date, the growth and cultivation of Hemp are illegal in Colombia until the reason is medicinal or for research purposes.
Before digging deep into Hemp and cannabis’s legal status, let us reflect on the timeline and specific Colombian cannabis facts!
Cannabis History in Colombia
Cannabis and Hemp cultivation and consumption is not new; however, it has recently received more attention. Since the colonial period, Hemp was grown for its industrial fibers. Eventually, the growth and consumption surged, which compelled the authorities to restrict cannabis in 1939 and 1946.
Despite the ban, cannabis and Hemp didn’t stop to find their way to Colombia. These were smuggled into Colombia through several routes.
Finally, in 1994, the Constitutional Court of Colombia allowed cannabis and Hemp possession, but only for personal use. In 2012 the Colombian government legalized possession of up to 20 grams of cannabis, and then in 2015, the Colombian Supreme Court allowed the cultivation of up to 20 cannabis plants. President Juan Manuel Santos signed legislation that allowed the medicinal use of cannabis and its derivatives.
In 2016, the Colombian government allowed access to medicinal cannabis for patients. From 2016 onwards, the cultivation and growth of Hemp, cannabis, and its seeds were permitted for medicinal/scientific reasons. However, there are some pre-requisites for growing cannabis and hemp flower in Colombia.
License for growing Hemp in Colombia
There are four types of licenses for the growth of Hemp and cannabis in Colombia. For Hemp, a license for the cultivation of non-psychoactive cannabis plants is required, which is granted by the Ministry of Justice. For a cannabis-related product to be considered non-psychoactive, Colombia has set a standard, i.e., the THC content should be less than 1%.
For cannabis with THC > 1%, a license for psychoactive cannabis cultivation is required. The Ministry of Justice issues this license too.
However, for manufacturing CBD and cannabinoids, you need a license to manufacture cannabis derivatives by the Ministry of Health. This license allows national use and also export. However, this doesn’t allow the export of biomass, i.e., dried flowers.
Then there is the fourth type of license, which is only for the commercial use of seeds. In other words, you need this license if you intend to use seeds for commercial purposes only. You cannot sow, cultivate, or produce with this license.
Can I send cannabis seeds to Colombia?
Cannabis seeds are illegal to sell, purchase, and use, except for medicinal purposes. In other words, cannabis seeds are legal for medicinal and scientific reasons only. However, even that requires a license and registration.
Can I grow hemp flower or cannabis plant?
Yes, you can only if you have the license to do so.
Who can apply for the license to grow Hemp in Colombia, and how long does it take?
Anyone can apply for the license. You can be a resident or a foreigner. As far as timing is concerned, there have been variable timelines reported by different individuals. On average, the process takes anywhere up to 6 months, or 1 year in some cases.
How long is the validity of the license to grow hemp flowers in Colombia?
The license is valid for 5 years at a time, but you can renew it as many times as you wish to.
Can I export dried flowers?
Again the answer lies in the reason behind the export. If the export is for a commercial basis, then it’s illegal. However, for scientific motives, it is possible to ship.
Twenty grams of Hemp is allowed, so can I smoke Hemp in public?
The upper limit of 20 grams for possessing cannabis and related products is applicable when the possessor is within the private premises. Public smoking of Hemp is still illegal irrespective of the quantity.
What if I have more than 20 grams of cannabis/Hemp?
Getting caught with more than the set amount can land you in trouble. When found with a more significant amount than the threshold, you can be charged with an ‘intent to sell cannabis.’ Expect a 20-year sentence under a drug smuggling case.
With the recent changes in the regulations regarding the cultivation of medical cannabis and hemp flower in Colombia, it has become an attraction for investors. With its fertile lands, which have a considerable potential to grow cannabis, Colombia is expected to become the largest producer of medical cannabis in the world.