Los productores en las zonas empobrecidas de la Colombia rural están luchando por que sus voces se escuchen en el proceso que está desplegando el país hacia un mercado médico regulado. Más información, en inglés, está disponible abajo.

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When night falls on this south-central Colombian town, the hills above light up like a Christmas tree. Clusters of white lights glow in the darkness, marking the crops that have made Corinto synonymous with Colombian marijuana.

Half of all Colombia’s cannabis production is concentrated in the northern part of Cauca province, and 50% of that is grown in Corinto alone. Police estimate 100 hectares of land in the municipality are dedicated to growing weed; local farmers reckon the real number could be twice that.

So when Colombia recently legalised marijuana for medical and scientific purposes, farmers in Corinto figured they had a corner on the cultivation market.

A group of farmers came together in July to create Caucannabis, a cooperative that aims to be a prime supplier to companies hoping to cash in on Colombia’s new legal marijuana business.

“In this region we have been deeply affected by illegal drugs and terrorism. This is an opportunity for us to make a change,” says cooperative leader Héctor Fabio Sánchez, one of 52 members of the cooperative, most of whom have or have had marijuana crops.

Betania Rodríguez, a cooperative member who asked that her real name not be used, says that marijuana and coca – the raw material for cocaine – are just about the only options for farmers to make a living in this isolated area. Her husband tends the bushes next to their home made of thick bamboo and wooden planks, while she works as a day labourer for other growers trimming the buds to prepare them for sale.

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