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Free Medical Marijuana Will Be Available to the Uninsured in Argentina

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Argentina has broadly legalized the use of medicinal cannabis in a series of progressive new regulations that will allow people to grow plants at home. The new rules also state that cannabis products should be made available for free in the country’s public health system for patients who don’t have health insurance.

The South American country technically legalized medicinal cannabis in 2017, but only for patients with severe epilepsy. A new regulation published on November 12 allows cannabis to be prescribed for any condition as long as there’s scientific evidence that it helps.

Cannabis campaigners enthusiastically welcomed the news. “Finally, the regulation we’ve been waiting for since March 2017,” said Valeria Salech, president of campaigning group Mamá Cultiva Argentina.

“This new stage [in the law] starts to redress the injustice of the persecution and stigmatization of a plant that has brought quality of life to a lot of people,” the organization said in a statement on social media.

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People with a cannabis prescription will be allowed to grow their own plants or get it from a friend or family member, as long as the grower is signed up to a government register. They will also be able to get it through the national health system.

The legal annex detailing the new regulations includes the requirement to “implement measures to provide, for free on behalf of the state, products derived from the cannabis plant for patients who have a medical prescription and only have public health coverage”.

The regulation recognizes that many people were already using cannabis for medicinal purposes, often organizing informal supply networks, but the 2017 regulations left them outside the law.

Mamá Cultiva Argentina was founded in 2016 by a group of mothers who were using cannabis to treat their children’s health conditions. Their mission was “to demand legality for an activity that we were already doing […] which gave us what conventional medicine couldn’t – quality of life and dignity for our loved ones.”

Medicinal cannabis has gained some high-profile supporters in recent years. Nora Cortiñas of Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, a group of mothers whose children were disappeared during Argentina’s last dictatorship, said she uses cannabis for pain relief.

The criminalization of drug use is a legal gray area in Argentina. In 2009, the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to penalize adults for possession of drugs for personal consumption in their own home. But the ruling was never made into law, and the police continue to arrest and prosecute drug users, especially in deprived communities.

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“There’s really strong police discretion,” said Victoria Darraidou, coordinator of citizen security and police violence at the Center for Legal and Social Studies, a human rights NGO. “In many cases the police don’t take the Supreme Court’s ruling into account.”

The old law made life especially difficult for producers of medicinal cannabis oil, because the number of plants needed to produce it meant they could be prosecuted for dealing, according to Darraidou. “[This is] a step forward, not just for Argentina but for the region.”

Neighbouring Uruguay has the most progressive cannabis laws in South America, where it is legal for all uses. Adults are free to grow their own and it is also on sale in pharmacies. Many cannabis advocates hope to see something similar in Argentina.

Argentina’s leftwing government recognizes that the drug war approach isn’t working and usually penalizes consumers instead of traffickers. President Alberto Fernández said before he was elected that “the war on drugs has failed” and “the solution isn’t to go around persecuting people for smoking a joint”.

In early 2020, shortly after the government came to power, local media reported that ministers were examining legal cannabis systems in other countries with a view to possibly decriminalizing it.

Argentina is Latin America’s third largest economy, with a population of 44 million. A Uruguay-style legal cannabis market would likely have major consequences for the drug trade in the region.

For now, campaigners will focus on the implementation of the new rules. “This is progress that commits us to keep working to expand rights,” Salech said.

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Many used medical cannabis already, but now they won’t go to jail for it.

Marijuana in Argentina

Legislation in this country is quite strict and also distinguishes between three offenses: possession, trafficking and smuggling. And all of them are prison terms, which does not prevent, for many years been a big move in the street in favor of legalizing cannabis.

Argentina legislation, as far as drugs in force since 1989, has three criminal concepts:

Marijuana in Argentina

– First drug possession, if the authorities confiscated cannabis to a person, or any type of drug, the law punished with imprisonment ranging from 1 to 6 years. Although, if it is found that the drugs are for personal use, it is less restrictive but the accused will also spend time in jail, in this case the term of imprisonment ranges from month to two years in prison.

– The second criminal concept which foresees the Argentina legislation is drug trafficking (or trade with these substances) in this case is punishable with imprisonment for 4-15 years. If it is found that traffic has been occasional, free of charge, provided they are stated unequivocally that it is for personal use, it will be 6 months to 3 years.

– Third is drug smuggling (import, export and customs control concealment) is punishable by prison sentences of 4 and a half years to 16 years. If it is proven unequivocally that are for personal use, the penalty is from 3 to 12 years.

We must also add that, in addition to these custodial sentences, there are fines of 60 euros for drug possession, and included 60 to 5,000 euros for drug trafficking marijuana.

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Argentines want legalization

For some years, held in Buenos Aires a demonstration for the legalization of cannabis which is part of the Global Marijuana March (Marcha held simultaneously in more than 849 cities worldwide since 1999 and to be held the first Saturday in May). In this demonstration, thousands of people (accounted about 100,000 every year) are demanding the legalization and regulation of all cannabis for both medical use and for recreational or industrial use.

In this event even food sold made ​​from cannabis, marijuana smoking accessories or books on this plant. This day is always a party, peaceful march for marijuana fills the streets and becomes a claim shouting “No more prisoners to cultivate cannabis”, “Auto-culture now!” And “Freedom to Mary”.

Argentines want legalization

Requests the World Marijuana March

One of the main demands of this March happens to make reality the slogan “No more prisoners to cultivate, and regulation of cannabis.” World March has several protest points among which are:

– As regards the self-cultivation: an end to the raids, arrests and criminal processes cannabis growers.

– Regulate Cannabis Social Clubs for access to cannabis seeds.

– Holding: the cessation of arrests and prosecutions users for simple possession of psychoactive substances prohibited.

– They also want to be authorized by the State the medicinal use of cannabis and its derivatives.

– It also calls on state promotion of industrial use of non-psychoactive cannabis and that an investigation, also from the state, the medicinal uses of this plant.

– It also calls for a law of public, universal and free of the problems associated with the use of psychoactive substances attention.

Requests the World Marijuana March

What the newly released president thinks?

We must not also forget that Argentina is close to Uruguay, where cannabis has recently been legalized and where the state has taken the lead role in the production and distribution of the drug.

The president of Argentina, the newly elected Mauricio Macri said that Uruguay have to watch to see what the consequences of regulation, production and sale of marijuana are. Macri said that the policy has been carried so far as cannabis is concerned, there have been successful and have to monitor how they evolve new laws adopted in Uruguay in case they might serve as a model for the Argentine country .

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Argentine artists for marijuana

Many famous Argentines who support the legalization of cannabis, from the musician Andrés Calamaro to the actor Federico Bal passing many other public figures. Andres Calamaro himself saw last year a court in the city of Cordoba Argentina was filing a complaint against him for alleged incitement to marijuana. The complaint was filed by a legislator and a prosecutor after saying Calamaro in concert “Beauty evening to smoke a cheerleading.” The complainants argued that the attitude of the musician could violate national drug law that condemns up to 6 years in prison who publicly disseminate drug use, or suggest another person to consume. But a judge has finally determinated the singer did not exceed the limits of freedom of expression to utter that phrase.

Andres Calamaro supports the legalization of cannabis

Another musician Leo García, has also defended the use and legalization of marijuana. A few months ago he and his band were arrested for carrying marijuana in his car, it was a small amount and its destination was the own consumption, that is, for him and his musicians.

Argentine actor Federico Bal is also in favor of the legalization of cannabis. Even a few weeks ago, Bal posted a photo on twitter at age 10 and in which he appears with his parents wearing a shirt with a drawing of a Rastafarian under two palm trees in the form of marijuana and with the words “To Legal“.

The actor Federico Bal in favor of legalizing marijuana.

The daughter of actor Ricardo Darin, Clara Darin, said last year that the first joint smoked with his family, more specifically, with his mother and brother.

The daughter of actor Ricardo Darin, Clara Darin said who was smoking marijuana.

Finally, the author Maitena Argentina, claiming to be regular cannabis consumer and ensures that it has a medicinal function; also that he has never had problems with drugs and yet she herself has had with alcohol.
By Noelia Jiménez, Team Piensa En Verde

Legislation in Argentina is quite strict and also distinguishes between three offenses: possession, trafficking and smuggling. ]]>