Latin America has been very hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, and Argentina and other countries continue with their chronic economic problems. Now the New York Times is reporting that President Alberto Fernández has issued a decree that allows pharmacies to sell cannabis-based oils, creams and other products, and “orders public and private insurance systems to cover these medications for patients who obtain a prescription.”
Before he was elected, Fernandez said that “the war on drugs has failed” and “the solution isn’t to go around persecuting people for smoking a joint.”
The new decree also allows patients to grow their own medicine. Not that they were waiting for permission. The new rules also state that cannabis products should be made available for free in the country’s public health system for patients who don’t have health insurance. Obviously, any country with public health insurance should include medical cannabis in its coverage. It would probably save the government money.
Of course, Argentina’s smaller neighbor, Uruguay, legalized recreational cannabis in 2017, which is sold in pharmacies. Uruguay’s political and economic stability is a source of embarrassment for its neighbors, so Argentina will be under pressure to catch up.
The drive for medical marijuana was led by a group of mothers called Mamá Cultiva Argentina. It was founded in 2016 by a group of mothers who were using cannabis to treat their children’s health conditions. Their mission was “to demand legality for an activity that we were already doing […] which gave us what conventional medicine couldn’t – quality of life and dignity for our loved ones.”
Argentina has a sad history of mothers having to try to protect their children. They had to organize and demand to know what happened to their children who “disappeared” under the military dictatorship in the 1970s. In fact, Nora Cortiñas of Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, said she uses cannabis for pain relief.
My old friends at Sensi Seeds, the Dutch cannabis giant, are monitoring the situation in Colombia. (For obvious reasons.)
In 2018, Colombia’s “relatively progressive approach” came under fire. Colombia’s new president, Ivan Duque, signed a decree, stating that police would be able to confiscate even small amounts of cannabis; even if the individual only had it for personal use.
“We are signing a decree,” he said, “that gives tools to the police to remove drugs from the streets of our cities, and of course, to destroy any dose.” Yeah, sure.
The Colombian website Colombia Reports says, “Anyone in Colombia is free to criticize far-right President Ivan Duque as long as they are willing to die or live in terror for anti-opposition violence.”
A surge in assassination and death threats is making it clear that an increasing number of allies of Duque and his far-right Democratic Center party no longer tolerate democratic opposition.
Thus cannabis prohibition is associated with fascism in Colombia, and will be a serious problem for the regime, especially with the Biden administration.
Mexico News Daily reports, “Lawmakers are expected to legalize the recreational use of marijuana by the middle of December. … People will be allowed to have 28 grams of marijuana for their own personal use and sets out a range of other rules to govern the possession and use of recreational marijuana.
“People will be allowed to grow up to four marijuana plants at their home for personal use; fines can be imposed on people in possession of more than 28 grams but fewer than 200 grams of cannabis (more serious charges will apply for possession above 200 grams); people will only be allowed to smoke in their own homes or in the premises of marijuana ‘associations.’”
This will be very good for tourism which has been devastated by the pandemic and is vital for the Mexican economy.
Of course, Mexico has a long border with the United States, and Arizona just voted to legalize recreational marijuana. This will put more pressure on the Texas Legislature, which goes into its biennial session after the first of the year.
Richard Cowan is a former NORML National Director and author of How Is Cannabidiol (CBD) Useful For Treating Rheumatic Diseases?