Lawmakers in Argentina passed legislation yesterday to legalize medical marijuana and create a regulatory structure that will give Argentinians access to cannabis oil for a number of ailments and sicknesses.
According to Reuters, the legislation will now be passed on to the desk of President Mauricio Marci, who is expected to turn the medical marijuana bill into law. If and when Marci gives his approval, Argentina will start taking steps towards the cultivation, production, and research of cannabis.
The legislation would require that Argentina’s Health Ministry set up a medical marijuana research program, and calls for the government to “guarantee free access” to cannabis oil for all patients that meet requirements.
"Thirty percent of epileptics do not respond to traditional medicine," medical doctor Ana María García Nicora, who heads the Medical Cannabis Argentina group, told local reporters after the bill passed on Wednesday.
Because it will take a while for Argentina to have homegrown cannabis ready for medical distribution, the legislation includes language that would allow cannabis oil imports in the meantime.
Argentina isn’t the only South American country to hop on the medical marijuana bandwagon; Colombia and Chile both have programs similar to the new Argentinian proposal, and nearby Uruguay has gone full Colorado and legalized recreational cannabis use.
Full legalization may not come to Argentina in the next couple years, but for Valeria Salech, president of a private pro-medical marijuana group Mama Cultiva Argentina, the medical initiative is a good start that will, hopefully, lead to some even larger changes.
"In history, the big things always come in small steps."