Lawmakers in Peru have overwhelmingly voted in favor of legislation that seeks to legalize medical marijuana. It allows the local production, importation and selling of cannabis oil.
The legislation, which was hugely supported by Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, received a vote of 68 to five votes.
In light of the vote, Peru has officially assumed the role as the largest nation to legalize the use of medical marijuana.
Before the bill even got to national legislators, it received approval from the Health Commission of the Peruvian Congress where it received a total of eight votes out of the nine available.
This measure was recommended by Peru’s president soon after the authorities had successfully completed a raid against a group of committed mothers in one makeshift laboratory who had been continually producing cannabis oil in efforts to try and cure their epileptic children.
It is claimed, through various reports, that cannabis oil can minimize epileptic seizures, especially in children, with far cheaper and greater effect compared to treatment through industrial pharmaceuticals.
What’s more, medical marijuana is also generally prescribed for several conditions such as chronic pain, spasms, epilepsy, cancer and post traumatic stress disorder.
The makeshift laboratory was located in the house of one Ana Alvarez, a 43-year-old woman who had established the group referred to as Buscando Esperanza (“Searching for Hope”) in order to treat her 17-year-old son who suffers from a severe and rare form of epilepsy by the name Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, not to mention tuberous sclerosis, which results in tumors growing on the human brain among other body organs.
In her statement made soon after the congress approved the medical marijuana legalization, Alvarez said that she was very happy with the government’s move to approve the bill although she had stated that she was not entirely satisfied.
She also wants groups just like the one she helped establish to be incorporated in the process of producing the natural medicine, citing the fact that bill’s restrictions and regulations with the production of the cannabis oil precluded organizations such as hers.
Originally, this law was somewhat controversial considering the prevalent problem within Peru of drug gangs entangled in cocaine production.
Peru is the second-largest nation with respect to cocaine production in the world.
Nonetheless, this move seems to go in line with a survey conducted earlier this year which suggested that around 65 percent of the Peru’s population backed the legalization of medical marijuana for the treatment of health conditions.
Moreover, another 71 percent also agreed that the idea of legalization should at least be deliberated, provided that its use is controlled and designed to only cater for medical purposes.
Soon after the bill was passed, Peruvian lawmaker Alberto de Belaunde outlined that he was happy with the decision, stating that cCongress had guaranteed that numerous patients and their loved ones would now enjoy a better life.
What’s more, he named the day a historic one, precisely because it showcased that evidence and empathy can trounce over prejudices and fears regarding medical marijuana.
Nonetheless, this initiative has not been without some resistance. Much of it is coming from CEDRO, an anti-drug NGO (Non-Governmental Organization).
The group is mainly concerned about effects of THC, a psychoactive chemical element found in marijuana which results in the euphoric “high” many cannabis users experience.
CEDRO held their stance firm and cited that the only reason that would lead them to support the legalization was if THC was not included in the production of the drug, echoing views that the use of medical marijuana especially in adolescents and young children can have adverse effects on brain development.
This historic ruling in Peru closely follows in the footsteps of both Columbia and Chile, nations that have already legalized the use of the marijuana but for medical cases.
Uruguay is also in this list of nations having not only legalized the production of marijuana, but also its sale for recreational use.
The legislation, which was overwhelmingly approved by the Peruvian Congress this month, will become a valid law in 60 days, and this is after the regulations for the production and trade of medical marijuana have been clearly set.