Over the past few years, the world has seen increased public support for cannabis legalization and reform. As public support increases, so does progressive responses from governments around the world. Recreational cannabis use is now legal in Canada on the federal level and multiple other countries have passed legislation making cannabis legal or medicinal use.
Recently, lawmakers in Peru’s traditionally conservative Congress voted overwhelmingly to legalize the production and use of cannabis oils as a medicine. Alberto de Belaunde, a lawmaker who supported the bill exclaimed “this is a historic moment and my dream is that empathy and evidence can continue to defeat fears and prejudices.”
What Caused The Peru Cannabis Legalization Vote?
The bill, which will become law within 60 days, marked a landmark cannabis policy shift for Peru. Neighboring countries like Colombia, Puerto Rico, and Chile have already legalized cannabis oil for medical purposes. The bill was passed after a Peruvian government raid on an “illegal” cannabis oil laboratory. As it turns out, the makeshift production facility was run by a group of mothers who were making cannabis oil for their ill children.
The laboratory was also the home to 43-year old Ana Alvarez, a working mother of two whose son Anthony suffers from both epilepsy and tuberous sclerosis, a disease that creates tumors throughout the body. The group of mothers that Alvarez founded, called Buscando Esperanza (Searching For Hope), had been creating specialized cannabis oils for more than 300 young patients.
For many of the mothers, cannabis oil was the only viable treatment option for their sick children. Following visible improvements of many of the patient’s symptoms, Buscando Esperanza reached out to the Peruvian government but was not successful in pushing through cannabis reform. “We wrote to Congress, to the health ministry, and we got two negative responses,” Alvarez said, according to Reuters. Support From Peruvian Public And Government
Support From Peruvian Public And Government
After this raid, the women, their children, and some of their supporters protested and demanded that police give back “their medicine.” An outpouring of public support garnered from national exposure pushed the criticisms of Buscando Esperanza and other medical marijuana legalization advocates in Peru to the highest levels of government. President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who previously said smoking a joint “isn’t the end of the world,” proposed legalizing medical cannabis oils after hearing about the raid on Alvarez’ home laboratory.
While Alvarez has said “we’re very happy with the fact that Peruvian law has approved this,” she is also “not totally satisfied.” The cannabis oil legalization bill will only permit oils to be imported into and sold in Peru for the first two years it is signed into law. Only after the initial rollout might Alvarez and others be able to create their own cheaper and more specialized cannabis oils in the country. De Belaunde said “we would have liked the patient’s associations to be have been allowed to produce their own cannabis oil.” Many fear that families will not be able to afford the expensive imported oils.
The bill will not be a final product. It will be open to legal change pending how effective the new law is. The success or failure of the initial legislation will determine whether or not Peru will follow in the footsteps of nearby Uruguay and completely legalize cannabis.
Lane is based in Southern California and is a content curator for Medical Marijuana 411. He focuses his research into finding informative stories that can help medical marijuana patients better understand their diverse medicine.