Peru will regulate medical cannabis and will solve the neglection and marginalization of its patients, but will not legalize self-cultivation.

Peru will regulate medicinal cannabis use but not homegrowing

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Benito Díaz

The Andean country had already decriminalized possession of small amounts of cannabis, and now it takes a giant step with regulation of medicinal cannabis. A great victory for Peruvian patients and activists, like the users of @fundaciondaya, who will be granted legal and safe access to cannabis, although they won't be able to legally grow it.

Congress of Peru published last 23rd February in its official journal the new ruling that allows the use of medicinal cannabis and its derivates. This regulation establishes a series of permits and licences that will be conceded for scientific investigation, import and/or sale and production, the latter being exclusively controlled by public entities. The issuing of such licences will take place under rigourous institutional controls. There will be annual revisions, and disciplinary procedures will be opened against those who violate the new set of rules.

The order brings along the creation of a register of every legal and natural person, scientific investigation entities and public institutions authorized for production and distribution of medicinal marijuana. These elements will be under direct state competence through the Ministry of Health, drug’s state office, the National Health Institute and other segments involved. This way, a person who needs cannabis treatment will have access to the drugs, always under numbered prescription and endorsed by a registered professional.

Although the law has been ratified now, it was pending of approval since november 2017. It has been finally signed by the current president, Martín Vizcarra and the prime minister, César Villanueva, representing a huge success for the associations of ill people and activists who still keep the fight for legalization alive in that country.

Organizations like Legaliza Perú and Buscando Esperanza described the measure in social networks as a “step forward”. “The set of regulations in the law of medicinal cannabis use, although yet to be completed, is a step forward because finally the plant and its benefits are acknowledged. We are still missing a law on collective farming and homegrowing with fair prices”. To that regard, congressman Alberto de Belaunde, promoter of the new law, said via twitter that work is being done on a new law to allow associated farming.

Cannabic fight

The origin of this legislation can be found in the dismantling and seizure by the police of a clandestine crop. Five kilos of marijuana and equipment used to produce the derivates were found during a police search in an apartment in San Miguel (Lima) on February 2017. Members of the Buscando Esperanza (seeking hope) association, collaborators of Mamá Cultiva (grows) and Fundación Daya opposed the police search. During the protests they claimed that over sixty patients in Lima had been benefiting from medicinal oils produced there. These developments brought to public light the debate over the medicinal uses of cannabis, a topic known to few up until that point that quickly rose to the cover headlines in the media.

A massive demonstration took Lima's city center on the 7th of May 2017. There were activists, ill people, showbiz personalities and also families who treat their sons and daughters sufferings with cannabis.

Current laws

Peruvian law establishes in the artice 299 of the Criminal Code that possession of drug for own and immediate use “when not exceeding 5 grams in the case of coca paste, 2 grams of cocaine clorhydrate, 8 grams of marijuana or 2 grams of its derivates, 1 gram of opium latex or 200 miligrams of its derivates, or 250 mg of ecstasy, containing methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA) or methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) or similar substances will not be prosecuted”, decriminalizing possession of small amounts. This list will include from now on the dose planned for medicinal cannabis treatment.

By contrast, the article 296A of the Criminal Code on “sale and farming of poppy and marijuana and compulsive sowing”, establishes that farming of Papaver Somnium or Cannabis Sativa varieties, “will be repressed with incarceration for no shorter than eight years and not longer than 15 and a fine of 180 to 365 days and disqualification”, thus prohibiting homegrowing.