Peru Approves Medical Cannabis Legalization Bill

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After intense debate, the Peruvian Congress voted to legalize cannabis for medical use. The bill must be approved by President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski before it becomes law.

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Legislative Bill 1393, which passed on a 67–5 vote with three members abstaining—was proposed by lawmaker Alberto de Belaunde. The measure would allow the cultivation and storage of medicinal cannabis products with oversight by a regulatory committee made up of the Ministries of Agriculture and Health, the National Commission for Development and Life Without Drugs (DEVIDA), as well as an appointed panel of cannabis experts.

The bill was introduced over the summer along with two other bills to legalize cannabis for medicinal use. It was pitched as a solution for suffering patients after law enforcement raided a community cannabis cultivation site last February. Ana Alvarez, a cannabis advocate and founder of the association Buscando Esperanza, had been illegally producing cannabis oil to treat her son Anthony, who suffers from severe seizure disorder Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, when the family’s home was raided.

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Alvarez criticized another bill introduced by the executive branch that would have allowed the importation and sales of medical cannabis products, pointing out that it would be costly and inefficient to import expensive products from abroad, rather than allowing cultivation within Peru’s borders.

“Mothers are happy because it is already a step forward in this long journey. We expect self-cultivation to be allowed,” Alvarez said in support of the bill. “The import offers very high prices that would affect low-income families.”

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After being approved by the Health Committee on Oct. 11, Committee President and Congressman Eloy Narváez spoke out in favor of the measure. Defense Commission President Javier Velásquez Quesquén supported the measure in September, indicating that the cultivation and production must first be authorized by the executive branch through such institutions as authorized laboratories and the National Institute of Health.

The law will allow residents with certain qualifying conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, cancer, and epilepsy, to use cannabis and its derivatives as part of a course of treatment. Belaunde said that regulations for the production of medicinal cannabis oil will be drafted within the next 60 days if approved by President Kuczynsnki.

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Kuczynski has been generally supportive of cannabis in the past, saying “Si quieren fumar su troncho no es el fin del mondo,” or “If they want to smoke [in moderate doses], it’s not the end of the world.”