A change to Argentinian law has legalised the growing of cannabis for medical use, as part of a move to make medical cannabis more accessible to people who need it.
Changes to Argentina’s cannabis laws were made by President Alberto Fernández in decree released last Thursday. As well as allowing medical cannabis patients to grow cannabis in their homes, the decree allows pharmacies to sell cannabis oils, lotions and medications. It also forces the public health system and private health insurance companies to cover cannabis mediations when patients have a prescription.
To be eligible to grow medical cannabis, citizens with a prescription will need to register with the government. Friends and family will be able to register on a persons behalf if they cannot grow the drug themselves, with cases assessed on an individual basis.
Argentina first legalised medical cannabis back in 2017. However, initial laws were so restrictive it only legalised medical cannabis for refractory epilepsy. According to Argentina’s health Minister Ginés González García, this forced citizens to continue buying cannabis from the black market – risking a prison sentence between 4 and 15 years.
Despite the harsh penalties for cannabis, criminalising cannabis was ruled unconstitutional by Argentina’s Supreme Court in 2009. Unfortunately, the ruling was never made into law, giving police discretion to choose which communities were targeted.
According to pro-cannabis advocates from the organisation Mamá Cultiva Argentina, this disproportionally targeted poorer communities. Mamá Cultiva Argentina is run by mothers using cannabis to treat their children’s health conditions and has been fighting for legalisation since 2016. The group celebrated the law change on Instagram over the weekend, writing:
This new stage starts to readdress the injustice of the persecution and stigmatisation of a plant that has brought quality of life to a lot of people.
President Fernández has said in previous statements that he believes the war on drugs has failed but has made no move to fully legalise cannabis.