Free Zones and cannabis are two terms that go in tandem and Argentina is exploring the possibility, by taking into consideration the experience of other countries in the region, to create these zones in order to establish a healthy cannabis market. Still, it may be too early to take action, as the country is in dire need of cannabis regulation which organizations are pushing the initiative forward.
The use of medicinal cannabis as a complementary therapy is an idea that has gained ground and popularity worldwide in recent years.
Unfortunately ignorance and prejudices that still fall on cannabis frequently divert the discussion. They take the focus away from what is truly sought: promoting safe accessibility with quality standards to reduce suffering, alleviate pain and generate solutions for patients suffering from certain conditions (such as refractory epilepsy).
In Argentina, Law ‘27,350 [ME1]’ was unanimously approved on March 29, 2017. In its first article, it establishes a regulatory framework for medical and scientific research on the medicinal, therapeutic and / or palliative use of cannabis and its derivatives, guaranteeing and promoting comprehensive health care. But it could do more, such as by authorizing Free Zones toe encourage investment and development in the cannabis sector.
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Free Zones could be the key to develop the Argentinian cannabis sector
Beneficially for Argentina, some Latin American countries have set precedents and can point to success stories as examples.
Uruguay, to cite one particularly successful case, has been one of the first countries in the world to obtain a legalized regulatory framework for cannabis, taking advantage of the benefits of the (partially) untaxed ‘free zone’ regime for its production.
Pablo Corgatelli, Uruguayan director of Operal, put the situation in the adjacent country into perspective:
“Although at first it was notorious for including the regulation of cannabis for recreational use, which can raise questions of various kinds. One of the most interesting aspects of the laws they passed and their regulatory decrees is that they make the production, processing and export of cannabis and hemp for medicinal use viable”.
Regarding its production in free zones, he said: “Today Uruguay has proven knowledge in the entire logistics chain of medicinal cannabis. All these processes can be done by efficiently combining the use of special economic zones. These also give the country important competitive advantages in an export market with an estimated potential of more than one billion dollars annually.”
Free zones not only have competitive advantages, but they can also act as a body that regulates and ensures quality and efficiency standards for the production of cannabis for medicinal use.
Cannabis regulation is needed in order to have a healthy market
“We believe that there is an urgent need for regulation appropriate to the demand of society. People get their own medication where they can at the moment. NGOs have worked a lot with patients trying to guide them, but I believe that the State must provide an answer.” said Silvia Godoy, president of the Bahia branch of the College of Pharmacists.
Godoy also argued that it is time to leave prejudices behind to make room for treatments that can improve people’s quality of life “and that it cannot be omitted that” it is essential to provide traceability to the processes so that the product arrives to patients is safe. Which means being regulated by the State and monitored by the scientific, medical and pharmaceutical communities.
Finally, within the framework of its virtual training cycle, on Wednesday September 30, the regional office in Latam of the World Free Zones Organization will hold a webinar open to the general public, where Latin American specialists will address issues related to the medicinal use of cannabis.
It is expected that participants will learn how cannabis production was implemented in the Free Zones of Colombia and Uruguay, while also talking about the current cannabis legislation and the bills that are being discussed in Argentina.
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First published in Cronista, a third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.
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