By / July 1, 2020

Medical cannabis users in Peru have difficulties purchasing their treatment

The Peruvian law that enables the use of cannabis for medical treatment has some errors, and this is claimed by users who need it so much. Despite the law, patients still demand that the Government add personal and collective self-cultivation to the law in order to facilitate access to it for those who need it.

“Nothing has changed”, said Francesca Brivio, representative of the Cannabis Gotitas de Esperanza collective, when asked about the application of the law regulating the use of medical cannabis and its derivatives, approved in 2017.

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A flawed cannabis law that doesn’t take into account self-cultivation

The law on access to medical cannabis and its derivatives provides for the import, production, and marketing of the product, but, so far, Brivio said, only one pharmacy, belonging to Digemid, sells cannabis oil, one of the many products available from this plant.

“The problem is that they only sell one medicine, but the cannabis plant has many strains and many variants; however, so far they only sell one of the whole range we need,” denounced Francesca, who assures a disrespect to the law, since the norm indicates “medical cannabis and derivatives.”

Congressmen Daniel Olivares and Alberto de Belaunde have agreed to listen to the demand of the Association Cannabis Gotitas de Esperanza and the Federation of Medical Cannabis (Fecame) to present a new bill to complement Law No. 30681, which stipulates self-cultivation and collective cultivation, as a form of patient autonomy, since for now, everything is in the hands of the companies.

Medical cannabis users in Peru are suffering from a lack of access to cannabis

“My son hasn’t used his medicine (medical cannabis) for two months,” said Edgar, Renato’s son, a baby with microcephaly, a disease that causes seizures.

Initially, doctors prescribed other medications, but these had no effect on him. Until he started trying cannabis, and the results have been positive: from 40 daily seizures, he dropped to 10, then to one per day, and even to one per week. That has improved the quality of his life.

Unfortunately, if before the pandemic it was already difficult to get hold of cannabis because of lack of law enforcement, in the midst of the health crisis it has become more complicated.

Edgar can no longer afford to buy the medicine his son needs, and this is causing him enormous concern.

Similar is the case of Juana, a young woman suffering from refractory epilepsy, who started using cannabis to control her seizures and went from 20 a day to once a month.

However, the problem of access to medical cannabis is not a recent one, said Francesca.

Since last year, the associations have been calling for people to have access to the various treatments that can be obtained from cannabis, since for now the only pharmacy that has been implemented, after the publication of the law’s regulations, only sells one type of oil. However, the majority of patients require various percentages of cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), among other components.

In addition, currently, the pharmacy has run out of stock, so, since there are no more products, patients have to continue betting on self-cultivation (not controlled) and parallel markets, where costs are higher.

New cannabis project that aims to change the current market

In order to improve the law regulating the use of medical cannabis and its derivatives, the collective Cannabis Drops of Hope and the Federation of Medical Cannabis (Fecame), have drafted a bill that seeks to complement the one already approved.

According to Francesca Brivio, this project will seek, above all, the approval of personal and collective self-cultivation. That is a necessary measure to improve access to patients since there is currently a huge difference in prices.

So far, patients continue to buy the products on the parallel markets (illegal or imported) at an average of $57 (200 soles). At Digemid’s pharmacy, it sells for $13.5 (47.70), a much lower price, admitted Francesca. However, she assured, if it could be self-cultivated the cost would be only $1.42 (five soles).

There are many poor patients who have to constantly buy cannabis for their illness, and the cost becomes a crucial factor in whether they can remain stable or continue to suffer.

Therefore, Brivio stressed that they are not against regulation and controls that should come from the authorities, but they should leave aside traditional and conservative criteria that are complicating the current law to be applied as it should be and putting obstacles for the approval of individual and collective cultivation.

So far, the only congressmen who have listened to this request and decided to support his struggle are Alberto de Belaunde and Daniel Olivares.

Fecame hopes that in the next few days more congressmen from different parties will join in to achieve greater support.


(Featured image by succo via Pixabay)

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