The Cannabis and CBD Movement in South America

By 19 May, 2020

Latin America is at the forefront of the wave of Cannabis legalization, with Uruguay being the first country in the world to approve the national legalization of the plant for recreational use back in 2013.

The wave of Cannabis legalization has spread like wildfire since then, and a lot has changed. The paradigm of prohibition appears to be turning a corner as countries around the globe question if the approach makes sense in today’s society. 

In parallel, the explosion of the CBD industry has driven further change in viewpoints as consumers have begun to understand there is more to cannabis than simply getting high.

The current status of cannabis in LATAM

The latest research suggests that LATAM is poised to become a global cannabis leader when it comes to cultivation and export. 

Regulatory approval of cannabis can be split into two tranches, with the first being for medicinal use and the second recreational.

With the drug of harder narcotics rife in South America as a trade route on to the USA, LATAM countries have begun loosening the penalties around marijuana use. 

Medicinal use of cannabis is permitted in Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay, and Peru. Outside of this, many Latin American countries have decriminalized possession of marijuana for personal use. Notably, Colombia allows for 20g or up to 20 plants for personal use. 

What about Hemp derived CBD?

Cannabidiol, otherwise known as CBD, has appeared from what seems like nowhere to take center stage in alternative wellness in North America.

Hemp, often used to make hemp oil, is a form of cannabis which contains less than 0.3% THC (the compound responsible for the high). As a result, Hemp is non-intoxicating and used primarily for industrial use and more recently CBD extraction. To learn more about specifics around CBD check out

When it comes to LATAM countries, CBD is mostly unregulated. Where it is approved, CBD is often valued as a medicinal product, controlled via the need for a prescription. 

Still, Colombia and Uruguay offer CBD and OrganicCBDNugs over the counter with no need for a prescription.

Colombia is Becoming a Legal Cannabis Powerhouse

With a decree issued in 2017, Colombia has begun to use the legalization of marijuana sweeping across the states as an opportunity to license growers for export to countries with legal demand. While it’s early, it’s clear the country is seizing the opportunity to improve overall exports and become a source for the global market for medical marijuana.

At the moment, licensed medical growers are mostly carrying out due diligence in order to configure grows to meet global industry standards such as EU Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) as required in the EU to comply with new regulation (novel foods). No doubt, it will take some effort and time to produce cannabis products that meet industry standards for quality and consistency along with safety. Still, Colombia has taken steps to start on the journey.

This makes sense when you consider the affordable access to labor, coupled with perfect growing conditions. Colombia is set to thrive on the demand for cannabis as it ramps up supply chains to grow and export cannabis products to developed economies where legal demand is skyrocketing.


It seems quite clear that across the coming decade we will see a wider movement associated with cannabis legalization across Latin America.

With Colombia having begun licensing and cultivation, once more western economies legalize the use of the plant and demand grows it’s likely to grow into a business which can generate billions of US dollars in revenue and tax for participating countries. 

For now, Latin America looks on at the experiment Colombia is conducting and waiting to see how it all plays out.

Who knows, could we see LATAM producers become the kings of legal hemp-derived CBD and high THC cannabis production?

We will have to wait and see!

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