The Chamber of Deputies of the Argentine Congress will discuss Wednesday a bill that will allow the use of cannabis oil for medical treatments.
The initiative, if approved by the block of forces that supports the government of Mauricio Macri and a faction of the opposition, would allow the use of cannabis oil to combat diseases such as epilepsy, chronic pain and fibromialgia, among others.
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The project implements the creation of a regulatory framework for medical and scientific research on the medicinal use of the cannabis plant and its derivatives.
Also, it is mandated that the National Administration of Medicines, Food and Medical Technology (Anmat) approves the importation of cannabis oil “when it is required by patients who require medical treatments included in the program, have the collaboration of medical professionals, and it shall be provided free of charge.”
The project also creates a voluntary national registry of patients and relatives of patients with the illnesses which qualify for the program, and guarantees protection of confidentiality.
The newspaper La Nación notes in an article published Wednesday that the project does not include self-cultivation, which is currently overseen by the NGO Mamá Cultiva and 21 other organizations of parents of children with qualifying illnesses. Cristina Kirchner‘s Justicialist Party is also supporting the measure in the lower chamber of Congress.
“Only self-cultivation and cooperative cultivation of medicinal cannabis in the hands of users themselves, guarantees the existence of a public health network that does not depend on the pharmaceutical industry and its mercantilist conception of medicine, underpinning the right to health as a social and humanitarian good,” say the organizations.
Sources from these organizations told La Nación that the problem is that the state laboratories can take years to produce all the types of oils needed, while families already successfully make the oils that each patient needs. “It is not a drug, but a natural remedy,” they say.
The Anmat has already authorized almost one hundred treatments with cannabis oil imported from the United States, mostly to treat cases of refractory epilepsy, although in some cases to relieve pain.
Patients and families who need cannabis oil point out that imports are very expensive. In fact, a small 100 ml bottle costs around USD $250 and only lasts for approximately three months. Additionally, the forumla imported from the US has different effects on different patients, so in many cases it may not have the most beneficial impact on the patients.
In August President Mauricio Macri said in an interview with Notimex that “there are always possibilities” to legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, but that Argentina would first study the experiences of other countries.
“First we are going to study the example and results of Uruguay or any other country that has experimented with it,” Macri said.
In September the province of Chubut, in Argentine Patagonia, became the first state in the country to approve the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
The governor of the province, Mario Das Neves, enacted Law I No. 588, which allows the incorporation of cannabis oil into the public health for the treatment of “Dravet’s syndrome”, known as epilepsy. The new provincial law establishes that cannabis oil be provided in the public hospitals of Chubut.
Source: La Nacion