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Marches in Peru & Argentina demand new cannabis laws

Marches in Peru & Argentina demand new cannabis laws
By Robert Hackwill
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Countries dragging their feet on applying relaxations on medical grounds and patients are suffering, say campaigners.


Argentina's annual marijuana march took place this year as some international attitudes to the plant appear to be on the point of changing from repression to limited acceptance as a medicine, and tolerance as a recreational pasttiime. Demonstrators called for congress to conduct more research into the benefits of the marijuana plant and its cultivation.

In March 2017, the Argentine Congress approved a medical cannabis law.

The Medicinal Cannabis Law authorises the free import of cannabis oil for people with refractory epilepsy.

However, Valeria Salech, the president of 'Mom Cultivates', an NGO representing mothers whose children suffer from this illness, said the law is not being applied in reality.

Although the law is supposed to guarantee that the state oversee the import and supply of medicinal cannabis, as well as promoting the domestic production and research, protesters said none of this has occurred.

The Global Marijuana March is marking its 19th year and is celebrated worldwide on the first Saturday of May.

"No more imprisonment for cultivating, no more raiding our houses, kicking our doors, stealing the plants, taking away the medicine from our children. No more of that and no more repression and censorship on YouTube," said cannabis supporter and youtuber Federico Riveiro.

The Argentine congress legalised the use of cannabis for medical purposes last year, but activists say far from being applied, crackdowns on people growing for personal use have continued. It is a similar story in Peru.

Still waiting for The Man

People took to the streets of Lima to demand that the country's Health Ministry draft the regulations for producing and commercializing cannabis oil.

In October 2017, Peru's conservative Congress passed a bill to legalize medical marijuana allowing cannabis oil to be produced, imported and commercialized. The regulations had been promised 60 days after bill was passed but they have yet to be drafted, local media reported.

Former Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski had proposed the measure after police cracked down on a group of mothers making cannabis oil in a makeshift laboratory to treat their epileptic children.

Ana Alvarez, a working mother of two in Lima, has fought for marijuana in conservative Peru. She lives in a flat in Lima that she has converted into a cannabis laboratory to soothe the symptoms of her sick child, who has the symptoms of tuberous sclerosis and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.

With another mother who has a similarly afflicted child, she formed Buscando Esperanza (Searching for Hope), which campaigns for medicinal marijuana.

"Medical marijuana is legal in our country, it is recognised as medicine. We have achieved that in a short time, exactly seven months, the law of medical marijuana has been drawn up, now we're just waiting for the regulation," she said.

"Us, the patients are waiting calmly because we want a fair regulation. A regulation that adjusts to the needs of the patients, not to the needs of the big industries, we want this medicine to reach every patient who needs it, whether they have the money or not," Alvarez added.

Peru's neighbours Chile and Colombia have already legalized marijuana for medical purposes. Uruguay has fully legalized growing and selling marijuana for any use.

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