Argentina’s Ministry of Health will make definitive changes to the country’s medical marijuana law.
On Wednesday, the Health Minister met with key actors to close details on a draft regulation that will allow for home cultivation of cannabis and the production of oils and topicals by local pharmacies.
The measure will also guarantee access to medical cannabis to all patients free of charge, regardless of their health coverage, reported local news site Infobae.
Argentina had formally legalized medical cannabis in 2017, but the existing law failed to cover for patients' needs. According to activists and critics, the law’s lack of clarity propelled a legal vacuum that forced patients to either rely on the illicit market or be left without treatment.
With a population of over 44 million, Argentina is one of Latin America’s most significant markets for cannabis. Neighbor Brazil announced a similar measure last year. Colombia leads the region today in terms of regulatory development and corporate presence.
What’s in the New Law?
With this new regulation, Argentina’s federal government will allow for personal cultivation of cannabis to all patients, researchers or users who register in the country’s national cannabis program (REPROCANN).
Growers can cultivate through personal means or by the use of a growth network. Personal information regarding growers will remain anonymous. Limits on the number of plants allowed per person have not yet been defined.
The law will also authorize the production of cannabis topicals, creams and oils in pharmacies that participate in the program. With this measure, people who are not a part of REPROCANN will be able to obtain cannabis medicine in pharmacies with a doctor’s prescription.
Patients in this last category will need to portray a qualifying condition. The list of conditions has not been released, but is expected to cover more afflictions than the current list, which only allows medicinal cannabis in the case of refractory epilepsy in children.
It’s not just home growers that will benefit from the new regulation. The country will begin to conceive a country-wide, large scale plan for cannabis production. Research and development from universities, labs and research institutions will be prioritized, as well as incentives that will assist the production of cannabis from publicly-owned laboratories.
Why it’s Important
With this change in the law, medical users will be able to leave the illicit market and the state will implement policies to guarantee the quality of medical cannabis products.
Facundo Garreton, director of YVY Life Sciences, a medical cannabis company from the neighbouring country of Uruguay, said that this is an important step forward.
“Knowing that cannabis can alleviate many people’s suffering and not do anything about it, that’s the true crime,” said Garreton, who is also a former House rep for Argentina’s province of Tucumán.
“Good regulation will help to know the needs of every person, what to buy, where to buy it, while at the same time controlling the product’s quality. We hope this is the start of a path towards full regulation of the entire supply chain,” he said.
Valeria Salech, founder of advocate NGO Mamá Cultiva Argentina, said that the new regulation can also assist the country’s economy, which has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Cannabis is the answer to our therapies. But as we’re seeing all over the world, it also has the potential to create jobs in many sectors, not just in medicine, but also in agriculture, commerce and manufacturing,” added Gabriela Cancellaro, the NGO's head of communications.
Lead image by Ilona Szentivanyi. Copyright: Benzinga.
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