In 2016, Colombia’s Congress legalised access to marijuana for medical and scientific use with the aim of creating a legal framework for an activity that has traditionally been confined to the black market. This legalisation permits the commercial cultivation, processing and export of medical marijuana products for health and scientific use. A further objective of the move was to create more business opportunities in the country following in the path of other South American nations as we see a global shift in attitudes towards marijuana. But what is the legal framework for a medical marijuana license exactly and how does it work? 

A license for medical marijuana in Colombia will provide you, as an individual or as a company, with the legal permission to produce marijuana for medical or scientific purposes. 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 governmental agencies that can issue a license for medical marijuana in Colombia. In general, all licenses have a duration of five years but this can be less if you are a foreigner and your visa is valid for less than five by the time you apply for a license. In this case, you will receive a license with a duration equal to that of your visa. When applying for a license it is also important to be aware of the different types of licenses available.

What Are the Medical Marijuana Licenses in Colombia?

Within the legal framework, there are four separate licenses available and each allows you to undertake different activities involving marijuana:

medical marijuana

The legalisation of medical marijuana makes it possible to use the plant for medical and scientific purposes.

  1. License for the Manufacture of Cannabis Derivatives (Licencia de Fabricación de derivados de cannabis): this license allows you to produce products derived from cannabis for domestic use, for exportation and for scientific research domestically.
  2. License for the use of Cannabis Seeds (Licencia de uso de semilla): this license allows you to sell and distribute cannabis seeds and use them for scientific purposes. 
  3. License for the Cultivation of Psychoactive Cannabis (Licencia de cultivo de plantas de cannabis psicoactivo): this license allows you to produce cannabis as a crop, to produce cannabis for the manufacture of cannabis derivatives (for this you also need the License for the Manufacture of Cannabis Derivatives or to prove that the application for this license is in process), to produce cannabis for scientific purposes, to store cannabis and for its final disposal. It also allows you to produce cannabis seeds for sowing.
  4. License for Non-Psychoactive Cannabis Cultivation (Licencia de cultivos de planta de cannabis no psicoactivo): this license allows you to produce cannabis grain and seeds for planting, for manufacturing derivatives, for industrial purposes, for scientific purposes, for storage and for final disposal. 

Within these four licenses, you can apply for each of the activities individually. Depending on your needs, you may apply for just one activity, multiple activities or all of them. 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. The application process takes approximately 30 days providing all the information and forms submitted are correct. 

How to Apply for a Medical Marijuana License in Colombia?

Medical marijuana licenses in Colombia are delivered by two separate government agencies depending on which license you want and each agency has its own procedure for applications. In this section we shall outline each of them. For the ‘License for the Fabrication of Cannabis Derivatives’ you must apply to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, for all the others to the Ministry of Justice and Law.

Marijuana Colombia

For the ‘License for the Fabrication of Cannabis Derivatives’, you must make two payments.

License for the Fabrication of Cannabis Derivatives

For the ‘License for the Fabrication of Cannabis Derivatives’, the following documents must be submitted:

  1. Proof that you have paid the ‘processing fee’.
  2. A personal declaration of your income signed by the legal representative and the accountant or fiscal auditor (if a company) as well as a copy of your professional accreditation or ‘tarjeta profesional’.
  3. The Company’s statement of purpose in writing signed by its Technical Director as well as their professional accreditation as a chemist or chemical engineer.
  4. The Technical Director’s degree or diploma showing that they are a chemist or chemical engineer.
  5. Proof of the Technical Director and the Deputy Technical Director’s professional accreditation.
  6. 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.
  7. A plan of action of the company’s operations.
  8. A description of the location where the operations will take place and the equipment that will be used.
  9. A security protocol.
  10. An accreditation which guarantees that the end product meets the required standards.
  11. A plan of action for exportation.
  12. A plan of action for the completion of the operations after the license expires.

For this license two separate payments must be made. The first payment is a processing fee for validating the documents and must be made in advance (the amount varies depending on the activity). The second payment covers the cost of the actual license and it can be paid in instalments or outright (again the amount depends on the activity).

All Other Licenses

Colombian-Passport

There are a number of documents to submit when applying for a medical marijuana license.

For the remaining licenses, 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:

  1. Photocopy of your ID/passport or foreigner’s ID card (cedula extranjero) or your current visa. 
  2. Documents proving that you have paid the ‘processing fee’.
  3. A personal declaration of your income.

As a company, you will need to submit the following documents:

  1. Photocopy of the legal representative’s ID/passport or foreigner’s ID card (cedula extranjero) or current visa. 
  2. Documents proving that you have paid the ‘processing fee’.
  3. Tax Identification Number or ‘Número de Identificación Tributeria (NIT)’ to verify the company’s registration. If the company is not registered with the Chamber of Commerce (Cámara de Comercio), you will need to provide a copy of a document proving the existence of the company including the name of the legal representative. 
  4. A personal declaration of income signed by the legal representative and the accountant or fiscal auditor including a copy of their professional accreditation. 

Besides the above-mentioned requirements, there are also further specific documents required for each license. For the ‘license for the manufacture of cannabis derivatives’, the following must be submitted: 

  1. A description of the location where the operations will take place and the equipment that will be used.
  2. A security protocol
  3. 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.
  4. If the license is going to be used for scientific purposes, evidence of the research project is required.

The specific requirements for the ‘Psychoactive Cannabis Cultivation License’ are:

  1. A license for the Manufacture of Cannabis Derivatives.
  2. A contract with the buyer of the harvest, if this person isn’t the same as the grower of the cannabis.
  3. 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.
  4. A description of the location where the operations will take place and the equipment that will be used.
  5. A security protocol.
  6. A plan of action for the cultivation.
  7. A positive recommendation based on a previous control visit.
  8. If the license is going to be used for scientific purposes, documentation is required to prove the research project. 

The specific requirements for the ‘Non-psychoactive cannabis cultivation License’ are: 

  1. A real estate registration number or cadastral document or document that shows that the company can use the property or affidavit that state the possession or good faith possession of the property.
  2. A description of the location where the operations will take place and the equipment that will be used.
  3. A description of the cannabis varieties used, providing the conditions of no psychoactivity.
  4. A positive advice based on the previous control visit.

Where Can I Find More Information about Medical Marijuana Licenses in Colombia?

If you have any questions or enquiries about how to responsibly build a business in the medical marijuana industry don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected]. Our Biz Latin Hub team in Colombia includes local and expat professionals who have the knowledge and expertise to support you throughout the process.

Watch our video if you want to know more about how to set up a business in Colombia!