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Peru Issues Draft Law to Allow and Regulate Patient-Grown Medical Cannabis

Peruvian Ministry of Health has made a bold move. To that end, they will seek public input on their next cannabis legislation. By amending the previous law, this legislation allows patients groups in Peru to grow legal cannabis supplies.

Since November 2017, medical use of cannabinoid and cannabis-based drugs is legal in the country. The government amended parts of this law, but they were heavily criticised by advocates for not allowing patients enough access. The new version of the law will include guidelines for patient groups regarding the production and processing of the plants.

This may sound like semantics but it is actually an important step.

The Home Grow Dispute in Peru and Beyond

No matter how much authorities just don’t like the idea, let alone parts of the established corporate cannabis industry (which has also opposed the idea directly in places like Canada), the right to grow at home and distribute medical cannabis grown in patient collectives will not die.

Patient collectives were established in large cities during the 1980s and 90s when AIDS was still a deadly disease. The biggest “threat” to their existence has in fact been legalization.

The same problems keep recurring as they do now that the cannabis revolution is spreading globally.

Germany’s example is an instance. Although patients could initially obtain BfArM specific cultivation licenses in Germany, the law passed 2017 requiring that insurance companies reimburse doctors who prescribe them.

If rumors are true, this right could be restored at least in part. It is widely expected that home grow at least for “recreational users” will be a part of the legalization legislation now being drafted by the German Ministry of Health. How the Germans will deal with patient collectives is still an open question—but one that clearly makes sense given the pushback from the major insurers about coverage for the past five years.

However, the question of how to regulate this is still a big one. In South Africa, such issues are front-and-center as the government struggles for its first legalization bill on cannabis to establish a structure to commercialize cannabis.

Peru is similar to South Africa in that it has a weaker public health system. There’s less competition for established industries, not to mention pharmaceutical companies. Many people in these countries cannot afford medicine. Cannabis is one such example.

If people are unable to grow in their own homes, it will reduce the demand for healthcare services and allow them to access medicine that is not available to others.

There is, in reality, no way to prevent patients from organizing to obtain home grow from somewhere—even if they cannot grow their own. These conditions are not as effective as conventional medicines. People who are terminally and chronically ill will not be deterred by an indefinite jail term.

Patient Collectives: The Revival of Patient Collectives

The issue of patient collectives, or the lack thereof, is back in focus as Europe moves towards legalization. Malta tried to get into recreational marijuana last year and allowed for home growth. Luxembourg looks ready to do the same this year—and it is clear that Germany will have to consider these options.

What is more? In both Spain and Holland, there already is a defacto “home grow” movement that is, at least in Holland, being increasingly regulated out of existence—at least formally. But it won’t last long.

After his clients gave testimony on behalf of him, authorities in Britain recently handed a minor who ran a group and distributed cannabis oil to hundreds of patients a disqualification.

Peru may, therefore, be the best and most effective country to address this problem.