Number two on Euromonitor’s list is Colombia, which legalized medical cannabis and cultivation in 2015.
“The demand for derivatives and medicines for patients, both national and foreign, justifies the supply of cannabis and its respective cultivation,” said the country’s Ministry of Justice.
Thanks to its favorable climate and cheap labor force, Colombia has become something of a global production hub. At least seven Canadian companies grow cannabis in Colombia and, together, they have invested around US$100 million in the market there.
The Bogota-headquartered Cannabis Entrepreneurs Network (RedCannabicos) is a non-profit organization working to support and grow the Latin American cannabis market.
A legalized cannabis market will consolidate peace in the region, it says.
RedCannabicos has also developed a front-of-pack quality seal for Colombian cannabis suppliers (main image). In order to use the seal, suppliers must have a laboratory certificate that proves the product is free from pesticides, additives, microbes, mold, heavy metals, and that production is carbon neutral.
The seal features members of Colombia’s indigenous communities.
“Within the anti-drug war in Colombia, peasants and indigenous people have been one of the weakest links, […] victims of armed conflict and violence,” it says. “It is our duty to safeguard their identity and culture and now, under the new context of legality, our commitment is to include them and learn from their valuable techniques of sustainable and ancestral agriculture.”
According to Milenkovic, much is made of the ‘happy ending’ that legality could bring to Colombia’s troubled history and its war on drugs.
However, she warned that a black market could easily exist alongside a legal one if producers undercut government prices or produce a slightly different product.