A year has passed since Ecuador legalized the use of cannabis for medical purposes and patients are continuously improving their quality of life, due to all the benefits this plant can offer. Still, regulations are pending and many are asking the government to speed up these processes, as these can help create a more healthy cannabis market and ensure quality products are sold in stores.
In 2014, Lola Monge, 48, felt the first symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic and aggressive disease that causes severe pain, immobility and insomnia. “It was an ordeal. I couldn’t move and slept less than an hour. Everything has improved since March, with four cannabis drops a day.” she said. “Every night I put four drops in a glass with water, juice or milk. I sleep more than eight hours. The pain stopped ”.
Her son José Luis, gave her a small dropper. He obtained it through the Association of patients and families for medicinal cannabis of Ecuador, which he located through social networks.
One year has passed since the medicinal use of cannabis was decriminalized in Ecuador, thanks to a series of reforms made to the Comprehensive Organic Penal Code (COIP), in which the therapeutic use of cannabis was normalized. In addition it was established that hemp for industrial use must have a delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content of less than 1% in dry weigh and be regulated by the National Agrarian Authority
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Regulation is needed in order to create a healthy market
Alexis Ponce, an activist from the Patient Association, has expressed that having a cannabis law in place is a “great victory and a right for those who live with chronic and catastrophic diseases.” But, he notes that even if medical cannabis has been made legal, the regulation has not yet been clearly defined. “The Ministry of Health is responsible, we have to participate.”
On the other hand, Omar Vacas, ethnobotanical researcher, mentions that Ecuadorian authorities have until October 21 to present the regulation. “It is unfortunate, we have made little progress. Low quality oils are still marketed and production is inconsistent”.
In the Health Code (COS), approved on August 25 in the Legislature, it is said that the Portfolio will regulate and monitor the manufacture, marketing, distribution, prescription, and dispensing of cannabis-based products, Vacas recalls.
Regulations are vital, since there are diseases that can be treated with specific cannabis-based products: Refractory epilepsy (epileptic seizures or seizures), advanced cancer and metastasis, spinal, bone or joint diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis that Lola suffers, and many more.
“For its prescription, an experienced doctor is required, so the authorities must refer to the regulations, as it is done in Argentina or Uruguay. They both legislate and regulate the use of cannabis”. Added pain specialist, Óscar Navarrete.
Medical cannabis is changing lives in Ecuador
Navarrete has treated people with severe and constant seizures: “After ruling out treatments with conventional medicine, cannabis is prescribed. Patients improve; the tremor decreases and they lead a better life”.
One of the many patients is Abby, an 8 1/2 year old girl who lived a similar story. His diagnosis is refractory epilepsy and cerebral palsy.
Her father, Javier Rosero, sought help from the Family Grouping. They presented him with a doctor and began treatment. Then they supply him with four drops of cannabis every eight hours. “My girl is calmer; She no longer has repeating seizures, so she can study and live better ”. Another benefit, he says, is that Abby used to take six pills; today there are only two ”.
In the Assembly the cannabis topic is also being analyzed. Ángel Sinmaleza, from the Health Commission , says that he was informed that several actors participated in the regulation. Until the 11th of this month there were 49 technical tables.
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First published in El Comercio, a third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.
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