By Ana Campoy for Quartz. Colombia, one of the world’s top drug producers, is about to legalize medical marijuana.

Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos told the BBC (link in Spanish) on Nov. 13 that he would sign a decree regulating the use, production, and export of medicinal marijuana sometime this week.

“There’s big demand,” Santos said. “There are already firms in Canada and the US that are using marijuana for a variety of therapeutic, medicinal treatments.”

The move is a major policy turnaround for Colombia, one of the staunchest backers of the US-led war on drugs.

Aided by billions of dollars from the US, officials in the Andean country have fiercely battled drug cartels for more than a decade. But more recently, the government is focusing on less punitive measures, such as a crop-substitution program to replace coca plants with legal farm products. Earlier this year, Colombia stopped aerial spraying of coca plantations because of concerns that the pesticide it used causes cancer.

Read more… 

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