Argentina to Allow Medicinal Marijuana to Be Grown at Home

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BUENOS AIRES — Argentina on Thursday approved individuals to develop marijuana at home for medicinal use, delighting supporters of hashish who’ve fought for years to make it extensively obtainable to sufferers affected by a broad vary of illnesses.

A decree issued by President Alberto Fernández additionally permits pharmacies to promote cannabis-derived oils, lotions and different merchandise, and it orders private and non-private insurance coverage programs to cowl these medicines for sufferers who receive a prescription.

The president’s transfer considerably expanded the attain of a 2017 legislation that legalized medical marijuana. Supporters of medicinal hashish say Mr. Fernández’s predecessor, Mauricio Macri, established restrictions so strict that it successfully made the drug inaccessible to sufferers.

The measure is the newest step softening drug legal guidelines in Latin America. In 2017, Uruguay legalized leisure marijuana, which is offered in pharmacies, and Colombia established a licensing system to develop hashish for medicinal use. Home growers in Argentina will want a license primarily based on medical wants.

“We’ve been fighting for this for three years,” stated Valeria Salech, the pinnacle of Mamá Cultiva, an Argentine group that promotes medical marijuana. “We’re no longer going to be criminalized for seeking a better quality of life for ourselves and our loved ones.”

Ms. Salech grew to become a powerful proponent of medical marijuana when she noticed the constructive results hashish oil had on her son, Emiliano, who has epilepsy and is autistic. Emiliano, now 14, has been utilizing hashish oil for the previous six years.

“Cannabis helped him improve his connection to those around him. He was able to stop using diapers, to pay attention, he learned how to play,” Ms. Salech stated. “It changed our lives.”

The 2017 legislation was so restrictive that individuals primarily acquired hashish merchandise on the black market.

“There was a law but there was no access to products,” stated Argentina’s health minister, Ginés González García. “We are replacing a black market that already exists with quality control that is key in all medical products, particularly those that are given to children.”

The 2017 legislation permitted solely sufferers with refractory epilepsy entry to hashish oil, and there was no process in place to acquire it legally by means of the state. Ms. Salech and different activists inspired hashish customers to develop their very own crops, even though doing so was towards the legislation.

“We cultivate knowing that at any moment we could lose our freedom, but we do it because you can’t put a price on quality of life,” Ms. Salech stated.

Growing marijuana carried with it jail phrases of between 4 and 15 years. Those who develop it going ahead with out a license will nonetheless face that penalty.

The authorities now intends to attract up a licensing system to authorize home cultivation. It additionally hopes to work with medical laboratories all for producing marijuana and its derivatives.

Approval might be “on a case-by-case basis,” Mr. Gonzaléz García stated, however he emphasised there might be a broad understanding of the pathologies that may very well be helped by hashish.

“Even if it does not provide a cure, improving quality of life is no small thing,” he stated.

Argentina’s new regulation will even enable cultivation by third events who’re rising hashish on behalf of these with a medical want.

For now, full legalization of marijuana just isn’t on the federal government’s agenda. But activists are optimistic the definition of medical wants might be expanded to incorporate common well-being.

“If we only think of health as the absence of illness, we’re missing the point,” Ms. Salech stated. “This plant came to teach us that.”

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