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Argentinean Congress Ready to Approve Medicinal Marijuana

By: Raquel García - @venturaG79 - Nov 23, 2016, 5:49 pm
Argentine deputies consider.
Argentine deputies are poised to approve medicinal marijuana for a variety of illnesses (La Voz del Interior).

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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.

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

Raquel García Raquel García

Raquel García is a Venezuelan journalist with over 16 years of experience in digital outlets and radios. She currently lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Follow her @venturaG79.

Colombian Shopkeepers in Revolt over Sugary Drinks Tax

By: Julián Villabona Galarza - Nov 23, 2016, 4:35 pm
Colombian merchants have vocally opposed a new proposed tax on sugary beverages.

Español Colombian shopkeepers in revolt over sugary drinks tax. More than 23,000 shopkeepers signed a petition addressed to the Congress of the Republic of Colombia, demanding that they table the proposed tax increase on sugary drinks, which was included in the recent tax reform presented by President Juan Manuel Santos to the legislature. The Colombian government has recently been under pressure to look for additional sources of revenue due to falling tax revenues this fiscal year. In the letter, the merchants asked that the government reconsider the measure, and demanded that their voices be heard, criticizing the economic implications of the tax, which would hit soft drinks, iced teas, juices, and mixed drink powders. Read More: Peruvian President Takes Jab at Colombia's Tax Increase: "I Advise You Not to Do It" Read More: No, Raising Taxes Will Not Help Colombia's Poor According to the shopkeepers, the income of 580,000 families could be affected, since the sale of these products represents 20% of their sales and up to 33% of their total revenues. They argue that it could lead to hard times for many small shopkeepers, or even force them to close their businesses, as the tax will eat into their profit margins. googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1459522593195-0'); }); Health Minister Alejandro Gaviria, however, has maintained steadfast that the tax is the most effective way to combat obesity, which is on the rise in Colombia. Citing studies undertaken by the WHO (World Health Organization) that demonstrate a sugar tax's efficacy, he has stated that now is the time to take action. Yet, criticism of the tax on sugared drinks has emerged from various sectors of the Colombian economy. The National Association of Industrialists (ANDI) and the Colombian Federation of Merchants (Fenalco) have also come out in opposition the tax increase. There are even companies, such as Quala, that have announced that the added tax burden puts them at risk of bankruptcy. It remains to be seen whether the Colombian government will reconsider its proposal, in light of recent public outcry. Source: El Espectador

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