A youth smokes marijuana cigarettes using a papaya during a rally in support of legalizing marijuana in Medellin, Colombia, May 2013. AP Photo, Luis Benavides

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) -- Colombia's government plans to legalize the cultivation and sale of marijuana for medicinal and scientific purposes, officials said Thursday in a surprise shift by the longtime U.S. ally in the war on drugs.

The change is coming in an executive decree that President Juan Manuel Santos will soon sign into law.

It will regulate regulating everything from licensing for growers to the eventual export of products made from marijuana, Justice Minister Yesid Reyes said.

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Joshua Goodman ~ Associated Press ~

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