By / December 19, 2019

The evolving regulations regarding cannabis in Latin America

Brazil has become the largest cannabis market, while Colombia is the country that attracts the most investment. The legalization of medical cannabis in Latin America is advancing in the region.

There are still many impediments to its production and commercialization. This was revealed in a study carried out by Alfredo Pascual and published by Marijuana Business Daily International entitled “Cannabis in Latin America: Regulations and Opportunities.”

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The legal status of cannabis in Latin America

The study reviewed the status of the legal framework for cannabis in Latin America including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay.

The report highlights two aspects: Brazil, where it does not have a specific law for cannabis, is the largest cannabis market in the region while Colombia is the country that has attracted the largest investment for the production of cannabis in Latin America.

For now, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Paraguay, and Uruguay have already regulated the law for medical cannabis, while Peru has implemented a law, but there is no access to any product.

The first country in Latin America to legalize cannabis

The first to legalize cannabis in Latin America in all its forms (industrial, medical and recreational) was Uruguay at the end of 2013.

Until August 2019, only four companies were licensed to grow cannabis with a high THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) content and more than 20 companies were licensed to grow hemp.

In Uruguay there are already 36,956 customers for this market, 7,224 homemade growers and 3,900 people are members of 125 cannabis clubs where collective cultivation is allowed.

Someone planting cannabis in Latin America
Brazil has the largest market for cannabis in Latin America while Colombia has larger investments. (Source)

Chile became the first country in the region to authorize the large-scale cultivation of cannabis in Latin America with high THC content. However, the vast majority of Chileans have access to cannabis through domestic or collective cultivation.

According to Pascual, only the following companies have managed to obtain a cultivation license: Dayacann, Alef Biotechnology, and Agrofuturo.

Cannabidiol is the only unregistered product available for commercial sales in the Chilean market. In no more than a year, 2,500 patients can access this product.

The licensing process for cannabis producers

There have been more than 4,000 applications for licenses for small and medium producers. Producers have so far granted 247 licenses to grow the plant, 199 registrations in the ICA and 120 licenses for the manufacturing of cannabis derivatives.

The legislation of the cannabis plant in Brazil is still pending, however, the country is the largest market for cannabis in Latin America in terms of the number of patients and products that are legally sold.

Sales are made through special authorizations granted by the federal regulatory agency for individual patients, on a case-by-case basis, to import products for personal medical use. Since this program began, they already have more than 10,000 authorizations.

cannabis in Latin America
Chile is the first country in the region to authorize large-scale cultivation of cannabis with high THC content. (Source)

Opioid companies create a delay in the Latin American cannabis market

Argentina legalized medical cannabis in March 2017, Mexico legalized it in June of that year, and Paraguay regulated it with a decree in 2018, but none of the countries have implemented the laws.

According to Fernando González, an expert in cannabis, the regulation of the cannabis plant has been delayed because “there is a global interest that seeks to delay the processes, especially the opioid companies.”


(Featured image by pirizluz via Pixabay)

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