On Wednesday, Argentina’s health minister met with key stakeholders to finalise details of a bill that will allow the cultivation of cannabis at home and the production of oils and concentrates by local pharmacies.
It will also allow free access to medical cannabis for all patients, regardless of their medical insurance. Argentina had officially legalized medical cannabis in 2017, but the existing law was not covering the patients’ needs. Activists and critics say the lack of clarity in the law has created a legal vacuum that has forced patients to turn to the black market or to be left without treatment.
With a population of more than 44 million, Argentina is one of the largest cannabis markets in Latin America. Its neighbour, Brazil, announced a similar measure last year.
What does this new law say? With this new regulation, the Argentinian federal government will allow personal cultivation of cannabis to all patients, researchers or users who enroll in the country’s national cannabis program (“REPROCANN”).
Farmers will be able to grow crops on their own or using a farming network. Personal information about growers will remain anonymous. The limits on the number of plants allowed per person have not yet been defined.
The law will also allow the production of cannabis concentrates, creams and oils in pharmacies participating in the program. This measure will allow people who are not part of REPROCANN to obtain cannabis-based drugs from pharmacies on prescription.
Patients will be required to present a pathology eligible for the program in order to benefit from these treatments. The list of pathologies has not yet been published, but it should cover more diseases than the current list, which allows medicinal cannabis only for refractory epilepsy in children.
Home farmers will not be the only ones to benefit from the new regulation. The country will inaugurate a large-scale national plan for cannabis production. Research and development of universities, laboratories and research institutes will be a priority, as well as incentives that will help with the production of cannabis in public laboratories.
Why is it important? With this law change, medical users will be able to leave the illicit market and the state will implement policies to ensure the quality of cannabis-based medical products.
Valeria Salech, founder of the NGO Mamá Cultiva Argentina, said that the new regulations will also help the country’s economy, which has been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Cannabis is the answer to our therapies. But as we see around the world, it also has the potential to create jobs in many sectors, not only in medicine, but also in agriculture, trade and manufacturing.”added Gabriela Cancellaro, the NGO’s head of communications.
Kanabiz is pleased with those legal changes acknowledging the benefits of cannabis and its legalization, and will continue to scrutinize the development of these laws and their application and public health impacts in these countries.