Colombia formalized its cannabis industry in 2017, amidst an evolving global conversation increasingly in favor of decriminalization. The government published five resolutions defining the rules for the production and processing of cannabis for medical and scientific purposes.

This move set Colombia on a path to be a key player in the global medicinal cannabis market. From 2019, the country plans to produce an impressive 40.5 tons of cannabis per year.

Costa Rica, Residency Permit, Company Formation, Investors, Workers, Procedures

Colombia is set to become a key player in the global medicinal cannabis market.

Since signing the legislation in 2017, Colombia has made additional amendments that set standards for safety and quality of manufacture. Additionally, the government established four types of licenses to be obtained for the legal manufacture of cannabis.

What kinds of manufacturing permits/ licenses are available in Colombia?

The government established four licenses with which individuals and businesses can legally operate in the cultivation or manufacture of cannabis and cannabis products:

License name

License permits

Issued by

License for the Cultivation of Psychoactive Cannabis
(Licencia de cultivos de planta de cannabis no psicoactivo)
production of cannabis grain, seeds for planting, manufacturing derivatives (note the manufacturing license is also needed), scientific purposes, storage, and final disposalMinistry of Justice and Law
License for the Cultivation of Non-Psychoactive Cannabis
(Licencia de cultivo de plantas de cannabis psicoactivo)
production of cannabis grain, seeds for planting, manufacturing derivatives (note the manufacturing license is also needed), scientific purposes, storage, and final disposalMinistry of Justice and Law
License for the use of Cannabis Seeds
(Licencia de uso de semilla)
sale and distribution of cannabis seeds, and use for scientific purposesMinistry of Justice and Law
License for the Manufacture of Cannabis Derivatives
(Licencia de Fabricación de derivados de cannabis)
manufacture of products derived from cannabis for: national use, export and scientific research domesticallyMinistry of Health and Social Protection

License process and duration

ministry of health and social welfare, ministry of justice and law can issue licenses for medicinal cannabis

The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and the Ministry of Justice and Law are the two agencies with the authority to issue a license for medical marijuana in Colombia.

The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (Ministerio de Salud y Protección Social) and the Ministry of Justice and Law (Ministerio de Justicia y del Derecho) are the two government agencies with authority to issue a license for medical marijuana in Colombia. The application process takes approximately 30 days providing all the information and forms submitted are correct. 

Within these four licenses, you can apply for specific licensed activities as listed above. For instance, if you are only interested in distributing cannabis seeds, you can apply for the distribution part of the License for the use of Cannabis Seeds, rather than the whole license.

In general, all licenses have a duration of five years. 

It is important to note that cannabis can only be cultivated for products to be sold in the form of oils and creams, not the flower. This part of the plant is used for smoking, and strict laws remain in place against public consumption and commercial sale of cannabis.

Obtain a license for manufacture of cannabis in Colombia

As the authority for issuing the four licenses is split between two government agencies, the application process differs slightly.

Applying for the License for the Manufacture of Cannabis Derivatives

The Ministry of Health and Social Protection (Ministerio de Salud y Protección Social) issues this license.

For this license, two separate payments must be made. The first is a processing fee for validating the documents and must be made in advance. The second payment covers the cost of the actual license and can be paid in installments or outright. In both cases, the amount of the fee varies depending on the intended activity.

The following documents must be submitted as part of the application process:

  • proof that you have paid the ‘processing fee’
  • a personal declaration of your income signed by the legal representative and the accountant or fiscal auditor(of a company), as well as a copy of your professional accreditation or ‘tarjeta profesional’
  • the Company’s statement of purpose, signed by its Technical Director
  • the Technical Director’s degree or diploma as an accredited chemist or chemical engineer
  • proof of the Technical Director and the Deputy Technical Director’s professional accreditation
  • the property registration number or cadastral certificate. If you are not the owner of the property, you must include a document proving you are using it legally
  • a plan of action of the company’s operations
  • a description of the location where the operations will take place and equipment that will be used
  • a security protocol
  • an accreditation guaranteeing that the end product meets the required standards
  • a plan of action for exportation
  • a plan of action for the completion of the operations after the license expires.

All Other Licenses

The Ministry of Justice and Law (Ministerio de Justicia y del Derecho) issues the remaining three licenses.

For these, the required documents depend on whether the license is for an individual or a company. As an individual, you will need to submit the following documents:

For an individual license

For a company license
Photocopy of your ID/passport or foreigner’s ID card (cedula extranjero) or your current visa

Proof that you have paid the ‘processing fee’

A personal declaration of your income.

Photocopy of the legal representative’s ID/passport, foreigner’s ID card (cedula extranjero) or current visa

Proof that you have paid the ‘processing fee’

Tax Identification Number or ‘Número de Identificación Tributeria (NIT)’ to verify the company’s registration. Note: If the company is not registered with the Chamber of Commerce (Cámara de Comercio), you will need to provide documents proving the company’s existence, including the name of the legal representative.

A personal declaration of income signed by the legal representative and accountant or fiscal auditor, including a copy of their professional accreditation

Additionally, further specific documents are required for each license.

For the License for the use of Cannabis Seeds, additional requirements are: 

  • a description of the location where the operations will take place and the equipment that will be used.
  • a security protocol
  • the property registration number or cadastral certificate. If you are not the owner of the property, you must include a document proving you are using it legally
  • if the license is going to be used for scientific purposes, evidence of the research project is required.

For the License for the Cultivation of Psychoactive Cannabis, additional requirements are:

  • A license for the Manufacture of Cannabis Derivatives
  • A contract with the buyer of the harvest, if this person isn’t the same as the grower of the cannabis
  • The property registration number or cadastral certificate. If you are not the owner of the property, you must include a document proving you are using it legally
  • A description of the location where the operations will take place and the equipment that will be used
  • A security protocol
  • A plan of action for the cultivation
  • A positive report from a previous control visit
  • If the license is going to be used for scientific purposes, documentation outlining the research project. 

For the License for the Cultivation of Non-Psychoactive Cannabis, additional requirements are: 

  • A real estate registration number or cadastral document, or document that shows that the company can legally use the property, or affidavit stating the possession or good faith possession of the property
  • A description of the location where the operations will take place and the equipment that will be used
  • A description of the cannabis varieties used, confirming their non-psychoactive properties
  • A positive report from a previous control visit
  • if the license is going to be used for scientific purposes, evidence of the research project is required.

Come and see us at ExpoCannaBiz 2019

Biz Latin Hub’s top cannabis industry experts will be attending ExpoCannaBiz’s 2019 Business Conference from 9-11 May in Cartagena, Colombia.

Managing director and co-founder of Biz Latin Hub, Craig Dempsey, and Mining and Corporate Legal Counsel, Juan Sebastian Cardona, will speak at the Conference about their extensive experience in the evolving cannabis trade environment. Secure your place at the conference and connect with us.

Getting started? Contact us for help

The cannabis sector in Colombia is open for international investors on the lookout for new opportunities. With the stable legal framework established and specific information available regarding the sector, Colombia is forecasted to become a key exporter of cannabis extracts and derivatives into the foreseeable future.

If you’re looking to enter the cannabis market in Colombia and need some guidance, we can help. At Biz Latin Hub, we want to ensure your success in entering the Latin American market of your choice.

Our team of local and expatriate experts offers a range of legal and commercial back-office services that are customized to each of our clients’ needs.

Contact us today via email at [email protected] for personalized support. We’re ready when you are.

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