The Health Committee of the Chamber of Deputies has approved the cultivation of marijuana for personal use in Chile. The bill is set for a debate at the country’s Congress after the initial approval at the committee level. Its purpose would be to remove marijuana from the category of most dangerous drugs and re-classify it as a soft drug, much like alcohol. Similar situation is happening in U.S. where marijuana is listed as a Schedule 1 drug, a classification that is supposed to be used only for the most dangerous, addictive drugs, such as heroin and LSD. The fight for removal of marijuana from this category has been going on since 1972 in the U.S. Even though the Schedule 1 category is reserved for drugs that have “no currently accepted medical use“, somehow our policy makers don’t see the need for the removal of marijuana from this category. We’re happy to see that Chile is making this move that might inspire others to follow in its footsteps.
South America’s first medical grow
Couple of weeks ago workers in Chile harvested the country’s first medical marijuana crop. With the approval of local authorities, the Daya Foundation, a non-profit organization from Chile, harvested around 400 plants that were sown last October under a special permit. Dutch company Paradise Seeds, which became the first company to receive a Government license to export seeds to Chile, provided the seeds. The precious plants were sown in a small field in La Florida, a district of the capital Santiago. After the harvest, Chile’s first medical marijuana crop was taken to a heavily guarded enclosure where it will be dried and sent to a lab for processing. The first ready-to-use doses are expected at the doctor’s offices in January 2016. “This is about the dignity of patients who are dying every day in pain and with very expensive medical bills,” said Rodolfo Carter, the mayor of La Florida, at a ceremony marking the harvest.
Conservative Chile has ambitious plans for medical marijuana
Currently, Chileans are allowed to consume marijuana in privacy of their homes, but it is illegal to sell or grow the drug as well as to have it with you or consume it in public. As we mentioned earlier, the new bill would take marijuana off the list of hard drugs and bring it down to a level of alcohol, which is an amazing progress considering that Chile is a conservative country. If the bill would become the law it would still not allow using marijuana in public and it would limit the amount for personal possession to 10 grams.
Changing the legal status of marijuana in a country such as Chile may take some time. Proposed changes might be debated in Congress in a process that could take years to finish. However, the Daya Foundation is expected to push things forward, with plans to expand its medical program. Daya Foundation co-founder, Nicola Dormal, said, “We hope the next stage will involve 20 Municipalities which will fund their share of the grow. This way we can increase production and bring costs down. With 20 Municipalities involved, we would hope to produce enough cannabis oil to treat 4000 patients next year.”