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Published 13 November 2015

The bill was signed by the ministries of justice, health and agriculture and only awaits the final approval of President Santos.

The Colombian government approved plans to legalize the cultivation and sale of marijuana for medical purposes on Thursday.

Though the move has not yet been signed into law, Colombia's Justice Minister Yesid Reyes announced Congress’ approval of the bill in an interview with local radio station Caracol Radio.

The first draft of the document has been signed by the ministries of health, justice and agriculture and is only missing the final approval of President Juan Manuel Santos.

Reyes confirmed that the government decree will apply to medical and scientific uses of marijuana only. 

The move comes on the heels of another bill passed by Congress last month to approve the sale of all medical products that have marijuana, coca or poppy as its base.

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Legalizing marijuana for various purposes has long been debated in Congress. Other proposals currently on the table are the legalization of the drug for therapeutic purposes, as well as full legalization. 

The current bill hit a bit of snag Friday when it was revealed that future governments could overturn the decision to partially legalize the drug.

However, the Colombian Ministry of Health affirmed that it is taking the necessary steps to guarantee that the bill will “stay alive” through future governments.

The new bill came as a shock to some in a country that has long been considered the epicenter of the U.S.-backed war on drugs, which has turned into a violent battle between drug traffickers and increasingly militarized police forces in an effort to control the drug trade.

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Some observers say that Congress’ decision this week points to the potential changing attitudes toward marijuana use and drug legalization.

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