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Joining America's 23 states that have legalized medicinal cannabis for the benefit of its citizens, Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos put pen to paper on Tuesday, signing a decree that legalized the cultivation and distribution of marijuana for medical purposes.

Santos announced it would be fully legal to grow, process, import and export cannabis and its derivatives for medical and scientific use, according to a Reuters report. The move represents an important shift in Columbia's war on drugs, which has long sided with America's unsuccessful policy aimed at extinguishing the cultivation of illegal narcotics. Santos noted during the signing ceremony that his new decree “represents a major step that puts Colombia at the vanguard and forefront of the fight against illnesses.”

Though Colombia's citizens have been allowed to possess minute amounts of any narcotic for personal use for several years, Columbia's medical marijuana program has lingered in a legislative purgatory – with no tangible regulations, according to Reuters. The new presidential decree will allow citizens of Colombia to apply for a cultivation license.

As a result of this announcement, Colombia will be joining countries such as Uruguay, Chile, and Mexico, which have recently embraced marijuana reform policies. Columbia's newest presidential decree represents a surge of changing attitudes towards marijuana consumption and its potential medicinal benefits for those in Latin America.

(Photo Courtesy of the BBC)