Medical marijuana: which countries lead in Latin America?

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Several countries in the region have opted to legalize the medicinal use of cannabis, which has attracted large investments from multinational companies

Medical marijuana: which countries lead in Latin America?

The legalization of the recreational use of cannabis is a debate that continues throughout the world. Although figures such as the former Secretary General of the UN, Kofi Annan, and the former head of European Union foreign policy, Javier Solana, have called for changes to the prohibitionist policies of many of the countries, recreational marijuana remains illegal in much of the world. In Latin America, the only country where this practice is legal is in Uruguay, where a regulatory law was passed in 2013.

Leer en español: Marihuana medicinal: ¿cuáles países lideran en América Latina?

Despite the current state of debate regarding recreational use, the situation is different with respect to medicinal use. Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay are some of the Latin American countries where the medicinal use of marijuana has been approved, which has led to investments by US and Canadian multinational companies in these countries.

Also read: Marlboro Cigarettes and cannabis?

Antonio Droghetti, CEO of Canopy LATAM, a Latin American subsidiary of cannabis producer Canopy Growth, said that "the landscape for medicinal cannabis continues to evolve rapidly in Latin America and is about to take a leading role with the introduction of new regulations that we hope will prioritize patient access".

What impact would it have?

The possible economic impact of the legalization and regulation of the medicinal use of marijuana is remarkable. For example, according to a study by the Universidad del Rosario, medicinal cannabis could contribute 0.4% to Colombia's GDP, while the ProColombia company said that this industry could reach a market of more than USD $43,000 million for the same country in 2025.

For its part, according to El Nuevo Herald, Uruguay already has investments from more than 20 companies dedicated to the business of medical marijuana, which has meant earnings of approximately USD $ 40 million. Chile has also benefited economically by legalizing the medicinal use of cannabis, since, according to El Comercio, there are already three international firms in this country, which have invested more than USD $ 14 million. Globally, according to a report by Grand View Research, the medical marijuana market is expected to reach USD $ 146000 million by 2025.

Which countries issue more licenses?

The regulation of the medicinal marijuana industry in the region has made it a benchmark in terms of its legalization, according to the newspaper El País. This is supported by the fact that each time, more licenses are issued for their trade, always depending on the legislation of each country.

For example, in 2017, David Barbos, an agronomist at the Ministry of Justice of Colombia, stated that more than 1,500 applications for obtaining licenses had been received, of which approximately 300 had already been approved. On his own, Univisión has reported the ease of obtaining licenses in Puerto Rico, where these can be requested by the Internet, achieving the issuance of more than 72,000 licenses so far.

The situation is a little more hampered in Peru, where the legal use of cannabis was legalized in February 2019. According to the director of the Peruvian Institute of Medicinal Cannabis, Juan José García, "the obtaining of licenses will not be immediate, patients, marketers, producers, laboratories and pharmacies will have to follow a series of steps, which can take about a year. While this process is taking place, in order not to abandon the families that are finding a solution in cannabis, the legislation should be relaxed a bit".


LatinAmerican Post | Juan Diego Bogotá

Translated from "Marihuana medicinal: ¿cuáles países lideran en América Latina?"

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