Government-funded health insurance in Colombia now includes medical cannabis coverage, potentially expanding the market for therapeutic marijuana in the South American country.

A late 2022 move by Colombia’s Health Ministry resulted in increased government health insurance coverage of certain medical procedures and medications, including prescribed medical marijuana derivatives, as of the beginning of 2023, Finance Columbia reported.

Cannabis company Khiron Life Sciences hailed the development in a Thursday news release, saying that it would “immediately start filling backlogged orders of insurance-covered prescriptions in Colombia.”

“The new government is fully committed (to) the use of medical cannabis as a covered treatment under the Colombian health system,” Khiron said in a statement.

Khiron also said its medical cannabis clinic operator, Zerenia, had signed a medical marijuana contract with a major Colombian insurer in Bogota, representing more than 1.2 million insured patients.

“This is the first time an insurance company in Latin America is contracting medical cannabis specific services and products,” Khiron said.

The Toronto-based company said insurance-covered MMJ prescriptions comprised more than 90% of its Colombia cannabis sales during the first half of 2022.