Cannabis reform efforts in Colombia recently came to a screeching halt after the Columbia senate rejected a recreational cannabis bill. The Senate voted down a measure that would have legalized the sale of adult-use cannabis and opened Colombia up to a multibillion-dollar cannabis industry.
Despite the setback, cannabis reform activists in the country, including President Gustavo Petro, have pledged to continue their efforts to legalize recreational cannabis in Colombia.
Colombia currently allows the home cultivation of up to 20 plants as well as the sale of cannabis-derived products such as creams and oils for medical use. However, like most countries, the South American nation has outlawed the sale of recreational cannabis to adults.
Opponents of the adult-use cannabis bill celebrated its rejection, stating that the move would protect families and their children from drug abuse and all the ails it brings. The rejected recreational cannabis measure would have limited public consumption of cannabis and placed restrictions on its sale and use near and in schools and universities. It would also have established treatment centers for people suffering from substance abuse disorders.
Reform proponents such as Colombia Interior Minister Luis Fernando Velasco argue that the country’s continued prohibition of recreational marijuana is only benefiting the criminals running the cannabis black market. Activists in countries such as the United States and Canada have also argued the same, stating that criminalizing cannabis use makes it easier for criminal elements to step in and supply the demand. This puts consumers in danger of using potentially harmful products, harms the environment and robs governments of millions in much-needed tax revenue.
According to Liberal Party representative Juan Carlos Losada, the proposed adult-use measure would have reduced public interactions with illegal sellers and even saved lives. Shortly after the bill’s rejection, Losada released a public statement saying that the legislation’s backers didn’t expect it to go so far. Although the measure was approved by 47 senators and rejected by 43, it needed at least five more votes to advance.
Columbia now joins nations such as New Zealand, Mexico, Germany and Israel, which have announced ambitious plans to legalize recreational marijuana but scaled back their plans or ultimately failed to follow through.
Still, Losada said that he does not consider the bill’s failure to advance a defeat, stating that he and other backers managed to bring such a controversial issue to the forefront of the public debate. He plans on reintroducing the adult-use measure in the upcoming legislative session over the fall.
This setback in efforts to get adult-use marijuana legalized has denied various entrepreneurs an opportunity to conduct business in the way that U.S.-based companies such as Advanced Container Technologies Inc. (OTC: ACTX) serve indoor growers within U.S. states that permit medical or recreational marijuana sales.
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