Cannabis in Argentina
Regulating cannabis, either for medical or recreational purposes, is still an issue that every country must face individually, especially after the failure of UNGASS 2016, where a way to develop global drug policies could not be found. However, in 2016 we've seen great advances with regard to decriminalise cannabis use, particularly in Latin America. In this article we'll take a look at the current situation of cannabis in Argentina (the last country to approve its therapeutic use) and also at the importance of social movements, which with their tenacity and efforts have achieved that the government takes a step forward.
Back in 2013, Uruguay already became the first country to legalize medical and recreational cannabis use, sale and production (controlled by the State). Soon after, Colombia and Chile regulated the therapeutic use. Now, it is time for Argentina, which has allowed the import and distribution of cannabis oil (although many people claim that this is not enough since growing is still illegal).
The initiative endorsed by the Chamber of Deputies authorises the government to investigate the plant and import and distribute cannabis oil to all patients inscribed in a state register. During a first transition phase, the cannabis extract will be imported until the National Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA) can produce it.
The cannabis scene in Argentina
Up until last November, patients using cannabis oil to treat their conditions should do it clandestinally. A great part of the success in the advance of regulating cannabis with medical purposes comes from the efforts of social movements, among them those promoted by the NGOs Mamá Cultiva and CAMEDA (Medical Cannabis in Argentina).
With the slogan "No more convicts for growing", these associations have been present in the past editions of the Global Marijuana March gathering more than 170.000 people in 19 cities of Argentina, with the aim to call for cannabis normalization and end criminalisation of marijuana users and growers.
Mamá Cultiva is a non-profit association created 4 years ago (with the help of Mamá Cultiva Chile, Daya Foundation and CECCa Argentina) with the aim of grouping families with children suffering from refractary epilepsy, cancer or other pathologies who haven't found an effective treatment in traditional medicine. Their goal is to promote cannabis-friendly laws and to facilitate medical cannabis use to these families (especially those who can't afford this medicine economically), while being allowed to grow the plant individually or collectively in a legal manner.
From their platform, the marijuana moms perform a task of educating and spreading the multiple therapeutic uses of cannabis after having witnessed that cannabis extracts are a true alternative to control seizures, relief pains and complemment other treatments for their children.
Target: Legal own cannabis supply in Argentina
Clandestine patients are not invisible to society and science anymore, cannabis is being more and more studied and is finally being accepted as an alternative. While this advance is significant and hopeful, is still insufficient. According to Valeria Salegh, President of Mamá Cultiva Argentina, cannabis oil is not a substance which can be standarized. Salegh claims: "We already know that isolated molecules are useless, we need the whole plant".
Despite growing cannabis in Argentina has not been decriminalized, they'll continue to defy this law: "Own cannabis supply is not regulated, but in the article 8 of the rule there is a note that releases us from the article 5 of the law on drugs (which gives prison sentences for producing cannabis). Somehow, we're generating a "legal umbrella"so we can do our thing", says Salegh.
Today, and after the Federal Chamber of La Plata declared the article 5 of law 23.737 unconstitutional (this article prohibits cannabis seed possession and use illegal), laws are still contradictory. Despite this article has been declared unconstitutional, to buy cannabis seeds in Argentina or to grow your own pot is still illegal, since there is not a law regulating these activities.
For this reason, platforms like Mamá Cultiva or Daya Foundation will continue to call for new drug policies, since the government's proposal to import cannabis oil is not enough and each patient needs different dosages and strains to treat his conditions. Doubtless, own supply of cannabis is seen as the best option and all efforts will be aimed to decriminalize the plant once and for all.
Philosopher Seeds hopes that all the splendid work made by the different cannabis collectives will be soon fruitful. Let them grow their own cannabis safely and legally!
All our best wishes!