In the 2021 administration. Medical cannabis gains ground in Latin America

Legislation on the use of cannabis. 

The times

Edwin Fernandez Rojas Posted on 01/09/2022

2021 was a historic year for the cannabis industry in Latin America, both due to progress in regulatory matters and the first steps in forging an effective functional industry in different nations of the region.

It is an industry with considerable potential and that, in 2021, according to data from Euromonitor International, grew 17 percent in the region and reached a value of 170 million dollars, with Mexico being the most important market with nearly 59 million dollars.

For now, medical cannabis is the most promising market, taking into account that most of the countries that already have legislation on use (Chile, Colombia, Peru, and Argentina), only allow it for this purpose. In 2021, it was the segment that registered the greatest increase (27 percent) and it is estimated that it will have an annual growth of 91 percent in the next five years. According to projections by Euromonitor, in 2026, the regional medical cannabis market will amount to 1.2 billion dollars.

By 2022, it is estimated that the potential medicinal market in Mexico will be the largest in the region with more than 40 million dollars.

Colombia is one of the nations that has received the most investment and the arrival of foreign companies interested in developing the medical cannabis market. Lately, the American multinational Kinetiq Group expanded its operation and portfolio by investing in the medical cannabis sector in the coffee-producing country, specifically in Breedco, a Colombian-British company located in Valle del Cauca to export medicinal cannabis seeds and dried flowers produced in this region. zone to the United Kingdom, Europe, Canada, South Africa, Australia, United States, and several Latin American countries.

The seeds have become an attractive product for export and Colombia intends to take advantage of this. According to data from the consulting firm Markets and Markets, the global seed market currently moves 63,000 million dollars, and in 2026 it will reach 86,800 million dollars, driven by increased demand from the food, beverage, animal feed, biofuels, pharmaceutical, and cosmetics.

Another very attractive item is that of industrial hemp, a fiber that is obtained from the cannabis plant and is used to make textiles, construction materials, bioplastics, and paper products, among others.


In Latin America, at least eight countries have approved marijuana for medicinal purposes, and only two, Uruguay and Mexico, have legalized its use for recreational purposes.

It should be remembered that Uruguay was the first country in the world to legalize recreational marijuana. There you can carry and share up to 30 grams of legal marijuana in public.

After Uruguay, Canada was the second country in the world, and the first country in the G7, to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes.

Uruguay legalized the use of marijuana nationwide in 2013. There, pharmacies throughout the country function as points of sale for the product that has been cultivated by only two state-licensed companies, Symbiosis and Iccorp.

Buyers can buy up to 40 grams per month. Residents can register as “home growers” or form “growing clubs” to grow up to 480 grams per person each year. But these home growers can’t sell to pharmacies.

Mexico is the second country in Latin America to approve recreational use and it can be produced only for personal consumption.

Several nations in the region have approved marijuana for medicinal use.


In countries such as Bolivia, Cuba, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela, the consumption of marijuana is in any case illegal.

In Brazil, the Drug Law punishes the possession and use of drugs. And since 2015, the Brazilian Supreme Court has been discussing the decriminalization of the possession and personal consumption of illicit substances, but so far it has not reached a conclusion. Although medical marijuana is not legalized in Brazil, the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) included cannabis sativa in the official list of medicines in 2017.


The mayor of La Paz, Iván Arias, proposed, in December last year, to discuss in 2022 the use of medicinal cannabis for the treatment of patients with “specific pathologies”, after the first “exceptional” authorization of the use of cannabis oil for a girl’s therapy

The Mayor of La Paz stated on that occasion that “the door has been opened for La Paz to be the first city” in Bolivia to authorize the use of medicinal cannabis and that he will promote this initiative next year.

He added that he knows of several cases that were prescribed drugs based on “controlled substances” and that even his mother was recommended “a specific marijuana medicine.”

This debate takes place after Bolivia authorized in an “exceptional” way the use of medicinal cannabis for a 5-year-old girl who suffers from cerebral palsy so that she can continue with the treatment that helped her improve her quality of life and reduce spasms due to her disease.

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