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"Colombian president has high hopes for medical cannabis industry"

Colombian President Ivan Duque has high hopes for the medical cannabis industry in a country that has been waging a costly war against cocaine for decades. He said the promotion of cannabis for medical and other purposes is “a different story” than cocaine, which among other things is terrible for the environment.

In July, Colombia lifted an export ban on dried cannabis flower. Duque said his country is looking to harness derivatives for everything from medical treatments and food production to cosmetics. “We’re seeing a lot of international investment coming to Colombia,” said Duque, who will be replaced following a presidential election next year.

Israel might be able to lend a hand. Medical cannabis was legalized years ago, and more than 100,000 Israelis — out of a population of over 9 million — are licensed users. Israel approved cannabis exports in 2019, becoming only the third country to do so. 

For Duque, who fashions himself a law-and-order conservative, standing up for cannabis in a country that has been the linchpin of the US-led drug war for decades is more than a little out of character. He took office decrying how drugs “destroy” families and as president signed a decree banning possession of drugs in public spaces, challenging a ruling by the nation’s top court that allows Colombians to carry small amounts of cannabis, cocaine, and other drugs. However, Duque says there is a difference between harnessing beneficial components from drugs and lifting prohibition completely. “We’re not using cannabis for recreational purposes. We’re using it for medical purposes,” he said.

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