- The Argentinean Senate passed a bill legalising medical cannabis following Congress’s approval of the move late last year
- Certain patients will have free access to the medication
- Government agencies will be allowed to grow marijuana for research purposes
“The oil means that Benja is free of the medications and seizures.” – Yamila Casagrande
Argentina has joined the ranks of Southern American countries, Uruguay, Mexico, Colombia and Chile, by passing a bill which will allow its sickest citizens access to medical marijuana. The bill was passed unanimously by the Argentine Senate, 58-0, guaranteeing patients access to cannabis oil and other cannabis derivatives for medicinal purposes. The ban on importing medical cannabis will be removed, as well as offering free access to the medicine for certain patients who qualify, such as those suffering from epilepsy, MS and autism.
Personal grows will remain a punishable offence, however, still carrying a two-year prison sentence. Commercial grows will retain their 15-year maximum sentence. The measures within the bill will become law once it is signed by Argentina’s President, Mauricio Macri, whose Cambiemos Party sponsored the bill. Patients will be able to gain free access to their choice of medicine due to the creation of a medicinal cannabis research programme at Argentina’s Health Ministry, which “must guarantee free access” to oil and other derivatives of cannabis to patients who join up to the programme.
One such benefactor will be a Benjamín, who was diagnosed with West Syndrome just months after birth. The two-and-a-half-year-old suffers between 200-300 seizures a day and his body has been rejecting the pharmaceutical medicines he has been prescribed. His mother, Yamila Casagrande told EL PAÍS how important cannabis oil is to her son: “The oil means that Benja is free of the medications and seizures. Now he just takes a drop a day the size of a grain of rice.
While the law is a step forward in the right direction, it’s failure to allow for personal grows is frustrating, as Yamila explains: “We are happy, but we’re also aware that the law is not perfect because we were fighting for the legalisation of personal cultivation. “Still, we have opened a door and it is great that the dire existing law has been modified.”
With Argentina joining the elite club of countries which grants its citizens access to medicinal cannabis, one question stands out: when will the UK finally listen to scientific consensus and allow its sickest citizens access to this valuable medicine?
By Miles Casey| April 7th, 2017