Street light vandalism in Bogotá, Colombia, 2007. Image: Alejandro Forero Cuervo via Wikimedia Commons

Colombia's president has signed a decree fully legalizing medical marijuana in a shift away from preventing drug crop production.

Juan Manuel Santos said the move put Colombia "in the group of countries that are at the forefront...in the use of natural resources to fight disease".

But, he said, the country would still fight illegal drug production. Up until now, marijuana production in Colombia had fallen into a legal grey area.

While a 1986 law allowed for the manufacture, export, sale and medical and scientific use of marijuana, the practice was, until Tuesday, never formally regulated.

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