The government of Colombia has given the green light to export dried cannabis flowers for medical purposes. In a decree signed by President Ivan Duque last Friday, the substance will be used in medical products, and manufacturers are allowed to make goods such as textiles or food containing cannabis.
Embracing marijuana’s booming global market
In what appears to be aligning interests with the booming global market, the decree now ends the longstanding ban on the export of dried cannabis flowers by the country. The president broke the news in an event organized at Clever Leaves, one of the 18 multinationals that grow medicinal cannabis in Colombia.
President Duque said Colombia is coming in as a major player in the global cannabis market. The country is the world’s top producer of cocaine and has major cannabis production as well. In 2016, it legalized the production of medical marijuana.
Before this decree, Colombia was only allowed to export extracts of the plant but not its flowers. There were fears by the authorities that the exportation of the flowers would allow the substance to be diverted to the illegal side of the trade.
Expanding cannabis economic space
In a letter sent to the president earlier in mid-July, the cannabis cultivation company Canamonte argued that the ban on the exportation of flowers hindered growers from accessing the largest and most profitable market segment of the medical cannabis industry.
According to Duque, flowers, which contain both medicinal and psychoactive compounds of cannabis, could represent 53 percent of the global market. In addition to authorizing exports, the new order allows manufacturers to produce non-psychoactive derivatives from the plant.
“We are no longer only in pharmaceutical use. We are opening the space to do much more in cosmetics… food and beverages and even textiles,” the president said.
According to Fabian Currea, Canamonte’s director of cultivation, growers will now be able to explore new markets.
“Ending the ban on exporting flowers gives us the chance to explore new markets and take advantage of the plant’s low production costs in Colombia. The rule also helps control the informal market for fraudulent products based on marijuana that has had a recent boom in Colombia,” Currea told AFP.
According to government projections, the medical cannabis business in Colombia could become a $64 billion industry by 2024. Other countries in the region such as Uruguay, Ecuador, and Peru have also legalized the production of cannabis for medicinal purposes.