This week, Peru took a critical first step towards medical marijuana legalization after congress approved a bill that would allow pot to be produced and imported for therapeutic purposes. The Congressional Committee on National Defense unanimously decided to propose and approve the medical cannabis law, which will now head to the floor for a final debate and vote.

The country’s cannabis movement amassed a ton of traction after police raided a makeshift marijuana lab operated by mothers looking to treat their sick children. The group of women were growing plants and making oil for their children suffering from epilepsy and other debilitating conditions. Due to the public outcry over the plight of these parents, President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski decided to put forth legislation.

Alberto de Belaunde De Cardenas, Congressman of Peruanos Por el Kambio, shared his belief that the proposal would give patients a higher quality of life, and steer them away from the black market. Under the plan, applicable patients would have to receive approval from a doctor and register with the state in order to access treatment.

“We feel that all the mothers of the group are very happy because it is a reward for so much struggle that we have been going through day by day. It is about improving our children’s quality of life. We thank the authorities who have taken a step toward this,” says Ana Alvarez, the founder of the pro-cannabis NGO Seeking Hope.

An Ipsos poll conducted earlier this year shows that 65 percent of the country supports medical cannabis legalization, while only 13 percent backs recreational use. If passed, Peru would follow in the footsteps of fellow Latin American countries that have legalized medical marijuana use, such as Chile, Columbia, and Mexico. 

Needless to say, the resulting bill is a much-needed victory for the pot-growing mothers, as well as the thousands of Peruvians that would also benefit from access to medical marijuana.