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Colombia’s Bid to Legalize Recreational Marijuana Fails in Senate Vote

Despite setback, supporters remain determined to continue drug policy reform.




A Flora Growth cannabis farm in the mountains of Bucaramanga, Colombia. PHOTO CREDIT: FLORA GROWTH

Colombia’s recent attempt to legalize the sale of recreational marijuana has failed. The proposed bill did not garner enough votes in the Senate during the eighth and final debate on the legislation Tuesday.

The constitutional reform bill fell short of the 54 votes needed for it to be passed, receiving 43 votes against and 47 in favor, reports Forbes.

The legislation aimed to establish a regulated framework that would give citizens the right to make decisions regarding cannabis consumption, but it did not provide immediate regulations for sales.  It would have, however, allowed the government to develop rules for retail and taxes at a later stage.

Colombia has already made strides in cannabis legislation, with the legalization of medical marijuana in 2016 and industrial hemp in 2021. The momentum generated by the push for recreational marijuana legalization reflects a growing recognition in the country of the potential benefits associated with regulating its sale, and also highlights a broader shift in attitudes toward cannabis,

If the bill had passed, Colombia would have joined Uruguay as the second Latin American country to legalize cannabis. Despite the setback, supporters of the bill, including primary sponsor Juan Carlos Losada and President Gustavo Petro (a Global Cannabis Times Top 100 winner for Governance), remain firm in their determination to regulate recreational marijuana.

“I don’t consider this a defeat; we have taken a giant step, four years of putting such a controversial issue at the top of the public agenda, of the public debate,” said Losada in La Prensa Latina, adding that it would be introduced again in the next legislative session.


Global Cannabis Times columnist Andrew Deangelo previously discussed the issue this past April in the article: Will Colombia Legalize in 2023? Pres. Gustavo Petro’s election is cause for optimism, but hurdles to legalization still remain.




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