Most of us are aware of the growing support for cannabis across the United States and Canada, but the movement is far from confined to North America. Medical and recreationally legal marijuana has also been taking root in South America, from full-scale legalization in Uruguay to decriminalization in Chile.
Now, thanks to a group of caring mothers, medical marijuana may soon find a home in the mountainous and generally conservative country of Peru. Public support has blossomed after a police raid on a makeshift marijuana lab run by women looking to ease the symptoms of their sick children.
Unexpectedly, the “drug bust” ended up amplifying the women’s plight on national television, creating a massive boom in public support. The backlash towards the police raid has pressured President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski to set aside outdated drug restriction laws and propose medical cannabis legislation.
According to Ana Alvarez, one of the women in charge of the makeshift lab, cannabis oil is the only treatment that has alleviated her son’s seizures and psychotic episodes. Together, Alvarez and other women in similar predicaments have formed the group Searching for Hope, an organization that is seeking legal backing for the production of medical cannabis in Peru.
After the raid took place, a recently conducted Ipsos poll showed that 65 percent of Peruvians supported medical legalization, while just 13 percent backed legalizing recreational use of the drug. Medical marijuana is already legal in the neighboring countries of Colombia and Chile, while Uruguay has had recreational legalization since 2013.
While public support has recently blossomed in Peru, there is still some worry that the country’s right-wing controlled Congress could shut the proposed bill down. If approved, the measure would allow cannabis to be imported and sold in Peru for medical reasons. Additionally, it could potentially lead to domestic cultivation after about two years.
For now, these women are relying on the black market and putting themselves in danger in order to properly care for their sickly loved ones. Whether or not Kuczynski’s approved bill will be passed by Congress or not remains to be seen, but nonetheless, the ongoing situation in Peru proves that exposing the public to those most afflicted by these draconian drug laws could be powerful enough to spark an entire movement.