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Colombia Legalizes Medical Marijuana

Update Date: Dec 23, 2015 11:37 AM EST

Colombia has legalized the use of medical marijuana.

President Juan Manuel Santos, who announced the signing of the decree on Tuesday, stated that he does not think legalization of the drug will hurt the nation's fight against drug trafficking.

"Allowing the use of marijuana does not go against our international commitments to control drugs or against our policy of fighting drug trafficking," Santos told reporters, according to Reuters.

He added, reported by Vice News, "This decree puts Colombia in the group of countries that are leading in the use of natural resources to combat disease."

Under Colombia's current drug law, people can have up to 20 grams of marijuana for therapeutic uses. It is also legal to have up to 20 marijuana plants for personal reasons. Growing, selling and distributing the drug for recreational use are still illegal practices and are therefore, punishable by law.

The South American country stated that it has no plans to legalize the use of marijuana for recreational or commercial reasons.

Colombia is the latest country to legalize the sale and production of medicinal marijuana. The other countries that have already done so include Austria, Belgium, Canada, Finland, Israel, the Czech Republic and some states in the Unites States.

"For the past few years, Latin American presidents have become some of the strongest voices on the global stage calling for a different approach to drug policy" Hannah Hetzer said to Vice News. "President Santos's decree on medical marijuana is a demonstration that he is committed to ensuring that reform takes place within his own country, not just internationally."

The decree goes into effect on Wednesday.

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