At least 80,000 people have marched through the main avenue in Santiago, Chile in a joyful protest in favor of the legalization and regulation of medical and recreational cannabis. The march is the 13th of its kind and featured musicians, artists, costumes and giant joints.
"We want private cultivation to be regulated, to allow marijuana to be used freely because everyone smokes and we don't annoy anyone," a 27-year-old Marcher told AFP.
Protesters held signs declaring 'To grow is your right,' 'No more prisoners for cultivating' and 'Legal use, not criminal,' while many openly smoked joints.
Similar marches also took pace in other cities, such as Valparaiso and Concepcion. The marches are organized by the Fundacion Daya, Mama Cultiva, Amigos del Cannabis, and Cultiva Medicina: organizations that have campaigned for years to legalize marijuana in Chile.
In late 2015, then-President Michelle Bachelet approved a law that authorized the production and sale of medicines derived from cannabis, however the rules restrict this heavily and set prices far out of reach for most people.
"We are going to continue cultivating (marijuana) for the health and freedom of all Chileans," the executive director of the Fundacion Daya, Ana Maria Gazmuri, told EFE. "We don't accept that the state keeps violating our rights. To respect the rights of cannabis users is to respect human rights."
Many of those who marched grow their own cannabis and use it for medicinal purposes. One such grower told AFP that she had "no other option" when her daughter was diagnosed with epilepsy and nothing else was helping the condition.
Peru also staged marches, demanding the government complete promised regulation for medical cannabis oil. A law permitting medical use of cannabis has already been passed, but the regulations have yet to be drawn up to implement it.
"Medical marijuana is legal in our country; it is recognized as medicine," the president of Buscando Esperanza, Ana Alvarez, told Reuters.
"We have achieved that in a short time – exactly seven months. The law of medical marijuana has been drawn up; now we're just waiting for the regulation.
"Us, the patients, are waiting calmly because we want a fair regulation: regulation that adjusts to the needs of the patients, not to the needs of the big industries. We want this medicine to reach every patient who needs it, whether they have the money or not."
Former Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski had proposed the measure after police cracked down on a group of mothers making cannabis oil in a makeshift laboratory to treat their epileptic children.