By Emily Ledger
In South America, regulations and laws surrounding cannabis are becoming increasingly liberal, with medical cannabis markets becoming more developed. Now, Argentina has expanded its medical cannabis laws to allow for home cultivation of the plant as well as increased sales in pharmacies.
Medical cannabis was legalised in Argentina in 2017, allowing for some patients to access the medical products legally. In addition, recreational cannabis for personal use, as well as personal possession has been decriminalised in the country for over a decade. However, many patients have continued to find access to medical cannabis difficult, forcing them to turn to the black market.
What is the New Cannabis Legislation?
On Wednesday (22nd July 2020), Argentina’s health minister met with key stakeholders and advisers to conclude details of the draft legislation which extend the country’s legal cannabis market.
The new regulation allows for Argentinians with a registered health conditions to grow their medicines in their own homes. In addition, the sale of medical cannabis products, including extracts and topicals, will also be permitted in pharmacies throughout the country.
How is it different to previous policy?
Although medical cannabis was technically legalised by Argentina’s previous government in 2017, the policy gained significant criticism. Much of this criticism related to barriers and restrictions in patient access to medical cannabis products. Previous laws also did not allow for the cultivation of the plant. In fact, being found with cannabis plants – even for therapeutic purposes – could land Argentinians with a 15-year prison sentence.
The list of conditions which will allow for a patient to use medical cannabis is also expected to be extended. At the time of writing, only those with serious forms of epilepsy are permitted to use medical cannabis products.
Finally, the new legislation plans to make medical cannabis products free of charge to registered therapeutic users who do not have private health coverage and those who are enrolled in research trials and programs. This measure will make Argentina one of the first countries in the world to offer free medical cannabis.