In December of 2017, Paraguay legalized medical marijuana, joining 6 other Latin American nations in providing patients with access to medication for a variety of ailments. At Medicine Man Technologies, we see this as a significant victory that comes after the country took its first steps by authorizing the import of cannabis oil. The bill is expected to be signed and made official by President Horatio Cartes after its passage in Congress and with support from the country’s Health Ministry.
Currently, Paraguay’s drug traffickers are known as one of the largest producers and exporters of illegal, black market marijuana to neighboring Argentina and more notoriously, Brazil. The government hopes that this new law will disrupt the trade, making legal and state-regulated grows for medicinal purposes more attractive to cultivators. Also, now that Paraguay legalized medical marijuana, patients will have safe, legal access to treatment instead of buying from the black market.
What We Know About the Bill So Far
Paraguay previously decriminalized possession of 10 grams of marijuana with a 1988 law, N° 1.340, Art. 30 which stated, “Whoever possesses substances detailed in this Law, prescribed by a doctor, or whoever possessed them exclusively for personal consumption, will be exempted from punishment.” However, marijuana will still need to be removed from the country’s list of dangerous drugs before the bill is finalized as law.
At that point, the country will move forward in establishing the foundation and framework of its new program which includes importing both plants and seeds to be cultivated locally. One government agency that will play a primary role is the National Anti-Drug Secretariat (SENAD), which will oversee all cultivation and production. Imports will be controlled by the National Plant and Seed Quality and Health Service (SENAVE) with a focus on selecting the ideal seeds for medical marijuana crops.
The new law also establishes a National Mandatory Registry of Users of Products Derived from Cannabis, which requires that all medical marijuana patients register with the Health Ministry.
With a list of qualifying conditions not developed yet, it’s possible that a research group, established by the new law, will provide a list in the future. Known as the National Program for the Study and Medical and Scientific Research of the Medicinal Use of the Cannabis Plant and Its Derivatives (PROINCUMEC), this group will further investigate the benefits of the medicinal and scientific use of cannabis.
The goal of PROINCUMEC will be to, “to promote medical and scientific research into the medicinal, therapeutic and/or palliative use of the cannabis plant and its derivatives for the treatment of diseases and conditions in humans…” It’s been reported that citizens who volunteer to take part in their research studies will have access to free CBD oil and other medical marijuana derivatives.
What’s Next for Legal Medical Marijuana
While it’s encouraging that Paraguay is joining numerous other countries and states in this endeavor to provide safe, legal access to medicine for patients in need, there is still a lot to be done. Thus far, it has the support of Roberto Cabanas, VP of Paraguay’s medicinal cannabis organization. His daughter suffers from Dravet syndrome, a rare and severe form of epilepsy, and his family pays around $300 per month for imported cannabis oil – around 1,690,785₲ (Paraguayan Guarani).
Now that Paraguay legalized medical marijuana, Medicine Man Technologies will be keeping an eye on developments as the country moves forward with building the infrastructure needed to support a legal marijuana program for its citizens.
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