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News > Science and Tech

Latin America Advances in Medical Marijuana Use

  • Marijuana plants at a marijuana smokers club in the outskirts of Montevideo.

    Marijuana plants at a marijuana smokers club in the outskirts of Montevideo. | Photo: Reuters

Published 29 December 2017

Throughout 2017, different countries in the region modified norms that regulate the use of cannabis and its derivatives.

Advances in the use of cannabis in Latin America has set a precedent. During the last decade, governments have flexibilized legislation that regulates the use and consumption of the plant.

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This year, norms regarding the medicinal use of cannabis were modified. Legalization proponents claim the moves will have a positive impact in reduction of crime related to the production and commercialization of cannabis and its derivatives.

However, cannabis and cannabis-based medication sales might face obstacles as U.S. banks have warned they would stop doing business with national banks that have clients that sell these products. 


Progress made in this country served as a reference for the rest of the continent. Since former President Jose "Pepe" Mujica's government, the country has been modifying cannabis regulation.

On Dec. 19, medicinal cannabis sales began. The Uruguayan company Medicplast is in charge of distributing Epifractan, a cannabis-based medication. 


The Argentine government passed legislation to guarantee access to cannabis oil for certain patients and to promote research on cannabis' medical and scientific use.


Since 2016, Chile's Public Health Institute authorized the sale of cannabis-based medication called Savitex, but its commercialization remains restricted due to high costs. Accessing this medication implies a cost of at least US$1,622.

However, patients have the option to subscribe to clubs that cultivate cannabis for therapeutic purposes. 


In April, Colombia's Congress approved a law to promote the use of cannabis-based medication. The legislation also establishes parameters for the cultivation of non-psychoactive cannabis.


In November, Peru's president signed a bill legalizing the use of marijuana and its derivatives, such as cannabis oil, to treat diseases such as Parkinson's, cancer and epilepsy. Now the government must define how to regulate use. 


Marijuana use for medical and scientific needs was legalized in June. Legalization of cannabis for recreational use and cultivation is expected next year.

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