Medical cannabis is now legal in Argentina, becoming the latest South American country to embrace the plant-based medicine. Lawmakers have approved cannabis oil as a medication for patients with serious medical conditions. The legislation will grant researchers better access to the herb, which can also now be legally cultivated and distributed within the country. Until Argentina develops a working cannabis cultivation system, the country will import the plant from abroad.
Bill approved, must now be signed
The Argentine Senate approved the medical cannabis legalization bill on March 29, however it will not become law until it is signed by President Mauricio Macri. However, since the bill was sponsored by Macri’s party, this is not in doubt.
Several pro-cannabis groups in Argentina, including Mama Cultiva Argentina, are supportive of the new law, according to the Associated Press. However, despite the progress, they are intent on keeping up the momentum and pushing for further reform. They are now pushing so that Argentinians will be able to grow cannabis at home.
Mama Cultiva Argentina’s president, Valeria Salech said, “In history, the big things always come in small steps,” when talking with reports about the new bill.
The organization has been very active in supporting cannabis as a treatment for patients with epilepsy and have also proposed that the herb could be beneficial for those with HIV and AIDS.
Medical Cannabis Argentina is also happy with thew new law and is hopeful that it will finally give Argentinian patients access to a working treatment for their conditions.
According to Ana Maria Garcia Nicora, a medical doctor, conventional medicine is not effective for around 30 percent of epilepsy patients. However, she added that cannabis could finally offer an “option” for her daughter, who has suffered with the condition for more than 20 years.
Medical cannabis revolution sweeps Latin America
Several Latin American countries are doing a u-turn on cannabis, as more scientific evidence emerges about the plant’s stunning medicinal properties. The first country to legalize recreational consumption and cultivation was Uruguay, back in 2013. Colorado voted in favor of recreational pot in 2012, however the plant did not go legal until 2014.
Brazil is also making progress with medical cannabis. A cannabis-based pharmaceutical drug has been legally available to qualifying multiple sclerosis patients since January 2017. A CBD-rich cannabis extract taken from the hemp plant is also being used to treat a patient with Alzheimer’s. Several cannabinoids have exhibited neuroprotective properties.
Cannabis use and personal cultivation has been decriminalized in Mexico since 2015, and legislation for medical cannabis oil in Peru may soon be brought in. Intriguingly, Mexico’s decriminalization did not come due to medical acceptance of the plant, but because a plurality of judges deemed prohibition of cannabis to be a violation of the human right to the free development of individual personality.
Medical cannabis laws akin to Argentina’s are now in place in Chile and Colombia. Central and Southern America is embracing marijuana even more so than America, where only a few states permit the herb for recreational use. However, medical cannabis is now legal, to varying extents, in 46 states.
Compared to the Americas, Europe are still in the Dark Ages on medical cannabis. Some countries have brought in medical programs, but they remain very limited. The United Kingdom hasn’t even got that far, although the government has just called for a review on medical cannabis.
Cannabis reform is happening at breakneck speed all around the world, following in the footsteps of the United States. When Colorado legalized recreational pot in 2014, other countries were cautious. But now even Canada has voted for nationwide recreational legalization.
This momentum looks sure to build further, with a host of high-quality scientific studies revealing more medicinal benefits of the plant. Word of mouth and anecdotal stories also have a huge effect.
Cannabis is more favorable among the public than it has been, perhaps ever – activists must now build on this new interest.