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The law was approved with 84 votes in favor and 4 against. Now he needs to go to conciliation in the Senate and then the presidential sanction to take effect. The conciliation is a procedure in which the chambers work together to give the final text because one of them made changes (not substantive).
President Juan Manuel Santos has not spoken recently on the matter but last year he signed a decree by two ministries to promote the legalization of the medicinal use of marijuana.
This is one more step in a path led by the liberal senator Juan Manuel Galán and that began in 2014 with the establishment of the project.
If the law is approved, Colombia would become the fourth country to legalize the medicinal use of cannabis, joining Chile, Uruguay and Puerto Rico.
The law regulates the manufacture, import, export, storage, production, acquisition, distribution, possession and use of cannabis and its derivatives for therapeutic purposes.
Two years of continuous work that are paying off today. Pl #CannabisMedicinal goes to conciliation and then to presidential sanction. #RegularToHeal
- Juan Manuel Galán (@juanmanuelgalan) May 25, 2016
"Colombia after the approval in the last debate of the law that regulates cannabis for medicinal purposes, marks a milestone in the establishment of a public health policy and consolidates the path to initiate a change in the prohibitionist policy," said Galán, according to the page's statement. official of the Congress of Colombia.
How will it work? We tell you 10 things you should know about this measure:
1. The law in no way refers to the recreational use of marijuana
The production, commercialization and consumption of cannabis will continue to be penalized within the provisions of Colombian law.
2. The project will promote research on medical uses of marijuana
As part of the measure, the promotion of scientific work was approved to explore other ways in which cannabis and its derivatives can alleviate the symptoms of chronic diseases and others. According to medical research cited by the law's rapporteur, there is already evidence that marijuana helps patients with arthritis, cancer, sclerosis, epilepsy, HIV, migraine, and diabetes, among others.
3. Licenses will be needed to produce marijuana and derivatives for medicinal use
The project includes the creation of the Sub-Directorate for the Control and Supervision of Narcotics. This entity will be in charge of "regulating the use of drugs and issuing licenses in this regard," says Congress in its statement.
4. The State will control the crops
The cultivation and commercialization of marijuana for medicinal and therapeutic purposes must be controlled by the State, as stipulated in this initiative. The control process includes the National Institute of Food and Drug Surveillance (Invima), the Colombian Agricultural Institute (ICA), the National Police, the Army and the ministries of Justice, Health and Agriculture.
5. Licenses will be charged and resources will go to education
Senator Galán says that the law contemplates the collection of licenses and that what is collected will lead to educational programs in schools to prevent children and young people from consuming psychoactive substances.
6. Minors may consume medical marijuana
One of the patients who inspired the initiative is a minor, Jacobo, who until recently suffered from up to 30 seizures a day. His mother, Natalia Tangarife, director of the Cultivando Esperanza Foundation, defends the rights of patients to access medicines derived from marijuana. After taking cannabis oil, Jacobo's life changed radically and his seizures have been reduced:
For cases like these, the law stipulates that minors can only use it with the consent of their parents.
7. The law will help local farmers
The law includes that the hiring of local labor for the cultivation and production of marijuana should be promoted and the farmers who want to take part in the program will be able to substitute illicit crops for medical cannabis. "The State will protect small and medium growers and producers," says Congress in the official statement.
8. Who will develop the products?
As approved, patients will have access to a drug developed "scientifically and endorsed by health specialists, thus breaking the link with illegality."
9. The law cannot be repealed
According to Senator Galán, with this rule the regulation process is shielded, which would not allow a future government to repeal the decree.
10. Who benefits from this law?
Terminally ill or chronically ill patients who wish to access cannabis-derived drugs "under conditions of equality, quality and safety," states Congress. "Medicines extracted from cannabis will not generate any tax on citizens," the statement added.