The move also opens new opportunities for research into its therapeutic and pharmacological properties. But the measures are still the subject of debate among scientists, who have mixed views about legalisation and the need for clinical trials as well as control measures.
To date, research has shown that at least 45 different pathologies do not respond to conventional medicine, but they respond to cannabis.
Colombia and Argentina have issued policies to regulate the cultivation and marketing of the plant, as well as the manufacture of derived products. Uruguay’s policies cover recreational use of the plant — after more than three years of study, the government announced last month (April 6) that as of July, it will enable the sale of cannabis in pharmacies.
Chile, Jamaica and Puerto Rico have also approved medicinal use of the plant in recent years, while in Mexico a congressional debate on the issue is still pending.
Rules in three countries
People who want to buy cannabis in Uruguay must register, from May 2nd, at the offices of Uruguayan Mail. Anyone can buy up to 10 grams per week, with a limit of 40 grams per month, at a cost of US$ 1.30 per gram. Users will be identified by their fingerprints, with a device showing the pharmacist if the buyer is authorised and how much they can buy.
It is estimated that, initially, around 30 pharmacies will participate in the system.
In Colombia, the government issued an order on April 10 to regulate the management of cannabis seeds and their derivatives for medical and scientific purposes. It established four types of licence, all with a validity period of five years: for manufacture of derivatives, use of seeds for planting, cultivation of psychoactive cannabis plants, and cultivation of non-psychoactive cannabis plants. The order states that “drugs may only be advertised or promoted in scientific or technical publications, addressed to the medical and / or veterinary body.”
In Argentina, a law that incorporates the use of cannabis-based medicines to the National Public Health System was made official on April 19. This law was promoted more than a year ago by groups of mothers of children with diseases and neurological disorders, especially epilepsies, that do not respond to conventional treatments.
For now, cannabis will be used to treat refractory epilepsy, cancer, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, and others that the Argentine Ministry of Health deems appropriate.
The same regulation also applies to research, cultivation and production of cannabis by the State. It also guarantees the free supply — initially through the import of cannabis oil — to registered patients.
Debate over the science
But not everyone agrees with these…