Thousands of Chileans demonstrated Saturday in the center of Santiago to demand immediate changes to the way medical and recreational cannabis is regulated and accessed.
World Celebrates 'Global Marijuana March' May 4
The fifteenth "Cultivate Your Rights" march brought some 80,000 people together, according to organizers at the Daya Foundation, Mama Cultiva and Movimental, entities that have been working for years to legalize the use of medical marijuana and regulate its use recreationally.
The demonstration toured the center of the Chilean capital and passed in front of the Palacio de La Moneda, home of the executive branch, in a festive, carnival atmosphere, with no violence reported.
One of the main demands of the protesters was the rapid approval of the Safe Growing Law, which seeks to prevent the seizure of marijuana plants from patients who have a medical prescription for the medicinal use of cannabis.
The bill recognizes medical prescriptions as sufficient authorization to prevent the seizure of the plants, without limiting the investigative authority of the Public Prosecutor's Office.
The initiative was approved last year and is now being processed by the Senate Health Commission.
Pedro Neira, president of Tata Cultiva, an organization that fights for therapeutic freedom for the elderly, said at the closing ceremony that "the medicinal use of cannabis improves in all aspects the quality of life of the elderly".
The president of Movimental, Nicolas Espinoza, considered it unacceptable that people who cultivate marijuana in their home feel fear of the police.
"We are in dark times and it is time to unite and strengthen," he said.
In December 2015, the administration of Michelle Bachelet approved regulations that authorize the preparation and sale of cannabis-derived drugs, albeit in a restricted manner and with prices beyond the reach of the majority.
For these organizations, the current prohibitive legal model is failing and creating more problems than it solves with relation to consumption, production and trade of psychoactive substances.