While the political debate about the legalization of cannabis in Argentina is in limbo due to the pandemic, the country is looking into options to produce its first cannabis-based medical oil. Currently, the province of Jujuy is closing agreements with other Argentine provinces. Thanks to a legal path made by the state government it could be possible to produce this oil in the near future.
The cultivation of cannabis for medical use has managed to maintain its continuity despite the coronavirus quarantine. Argentina is heading towards the first national production of cannabis oil, while the political debate on the regulation of self-cultivation and consumption is delayed in the country.
Jujuy, a pioneer in enabling this type of industry, closed agreements with the provinces of Corrientes, Mendoza and San Juan to jointly develop the activity for scientific purposes, days before the declaration of the pandemic. While other districts such as Neuquén, Chaco, Chubut and Tierra del Fuego have very advanced projects of their own to advance with the development of crops of similar proportions and characteristics to the northern one.
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Taking advantage of state laws in order to develop cannabis
The intention of these provinces is to take advantage of the path opened up by the administration of Gerardo Morales two years ago with the enactment of National Law No. 27,350. The law established a regulatory framework for scientific research into the medical, therapeutic and/or palliative use of cannabis and its derivatives, guaranteeing and promoting comprehensive health care.
Although the norm sanctioned during the government of Mauricio Macri marks an important advance, patients and various organizations are demanding an overcoming law that, among other issues, authorizes the self-cultivation and consumption of cannabis.
So far, only Viedma and San Antonio Oeste, province of Rio Negro, have regulated the self-cultivation of cannabis for therapeutic use. In the rest of the country, although most provinces adhered to the national law, no progress has been made in authorizing home cultivation.
Cannabis legalization in Argentina in limbo due to the coronavirus pandemic
The aim of Alberto Fernandez’s government was to get Congress to pass a law this year to decriminalize both the cultivation and possession of cannabis for personal consumption. To this end, he instructed the Minister of Security, Sabina Frederic, to analyze the regulatory models in place in other countries, such as Canada, Uruguay and the 11 states of the United States.
However, the stage that followed, the search for consensus among the different actors to come up with an agreed-upon bill, was interrupted by the declaration of the coronavirus pandemic. Thus, the long awaited debate, especially by the sectors that are calling for greater flexibility in the use of cannabis, was postponed.
At the same time, the government of Jujuy, through the state-run company Cannava and in conjunction with the U.S. company Green Leaf Farms, has accelerated in recent months the cultivation of cannabis seeds on a 35-hectare plot of land. It is now very close to producing the oil in its own laboratory, whose construction has been somewhat delayed by the quarantine.
The cannabis plantation is located near the town of Perico, on “Finca El Pongo”, some 40 kilometers from the provincial capital, under tight security controls.
The innovative experience of the Northern province even attracted international interest. Shortly before the outbreak of the coronavirus, the ambassadors of Germany and Canada visited the property of Cannava to see the state of production of the state-owned company. They showed their willingness to exchange scientific and technological equipment for the development of the crop.
The Canadian ambassador, David Usher, said he was working with Argentina on an agreement to “deepen the scientific exploration of the application of medicinal cannabis.
An important contribution to the wellbeing of the residents
As for the agreements signed with Corrientes, Mendoza and San Juan, the intention is to establish a roadmap between the provinces to promote research and production processes of cannabis oil for therapeutic use in existing and future diseases.
“Many people with illnesses will be grateful for this development,” said the governor of Corrientes, Gustavo Valdés.
For his part, Sergio Uñac, from San Juan, highlighted that the project from Jujuy “means a new business opportunity and scientific contribution to the health of San Juan residents, the people of Jujuy, the Argentines and the inhabitants of different countries in the world who will see this as an opportunity.”
“We believe it can be a challenge for the producers of San Juan. The State has a deep involvement in the custody, development of production, industrialization and marketing,” he added.
The agreement with the government of Mendoza’s radical, Rodolfo Suarez, establishes “technical cooperation for all activities related to the study and scientific research of cannabis and the use of its medicinal derivatives, within the framework of the programs that each of the participating provinces has or implements.”
In addition, it stated that both Mendoza and Jujuy must prepare technical and legal documents that serve as a basis for the development of federal public policies related to the use of the cannabis plant in its strictly medical and scientific sense, that is, they may jointly propose draft national laws regarding the use of cannabis.
For now, in the midst of the widespread unrest over the coronavirus pandemic, the fact that the country is close to the first wave of national production of medical cannabis, brings a ray of hope for many who find relief from their ailments in this substance.
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