Updated on January 30, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Chilean medical marijuana laws have changed a few times in the past decade, and they’re bound to change even more in the future. While Chile doesn’t criminalize marijuana as strongly as some countries, you should still know what you can legally do as a patient to avoid prosecution.
At the time of writing, Chile considers marijuana a soft drug. Soft drugs include substances like alcohol and others associated with milder legal penalties. So, you can use marijuana in Chile, but only under certain circumstances.
Chile still outlaws any form of recreational marijuana use. Using a small amount in your home has been decriminalized, but you can still get in trouble for possessing cannabis. Transporting, buying and selling marijuana is illegal, as well.
Medical marijuana patients can use their medication legally if they get it from a legitimate source. They can get their medication as an import, from a pharmacy or from a certified farm.
In some places around the world, you must join a government program to legally buy and use cannabis. These programs help the government manage their patients and provide them with more documentation.
But some countries, like Chile, integrate cannabis into their laws regarding other pharmaceuticals. Patients simply have to get a prescription for medical marijuana from their doctor.
If you live in Chile and have an interest in cannabis medicine, talk to your doctor about using it for your symptoms. If your physician approves, you can stop by a pharmacy that carries marijuana medicine to fill your prescription.
The penalties for marijuana-related activities in Chile have been a little tricky in recent years. While medical marijuana use was decriminalized in 2005, cannabis was categorized as a Schedule I drug in 2008. So, patients had a hard time getting their medicine, not to mention they still faced legal prosecution.
But, at the end of 2015, Chile’s president passed a measure decriminalizing marijuana and legalizing medical marijuana. People who use cannabis recreationally can still be punished, but they deal with fewer consequences. Meanwhile, medical marijuana patients can use their medication safely and without fear.
While Chilean patients have a much easier time nowadays compared to the past, Chile’s marijuana laws still don’t help every patient. Recent medical marijuana legislation has focused on making cannabis medicine available in pharmacies, but that doesn’t mean every pharmacy will carry it.
At the time of writing, patients in the Santiago area with money to spare have the most access to medical marijuana in pharmacies. Pharmacies in the Chilean capital were the first to offer medical cannabis, and it’s unclear whether rural areas will follow suit. Patients have to pay about $310 USD a month for their medication.
Besides the decriminalization of medical marijuana in 2015, Chile has not offered any extra protections for patients and doctors involved with cannabis. But, the new laws allow Chile to regulate medical marijuana a lot like other medications, and these rules have some protections already built into them.
The main benefit for patients and doctors that comes with legalization is the prescriptions used for medical marijuana. Prescriptions can serve as documentation, so the patient can legally use the medication they have. Doctors can also reference the prescription if they worry about persecution.
Chile has only recently implemented a lot of its medical marijuana laws, so, it’s likely they’ll make additional changes as time goes on. To learn the latest news about medical marijuana in countries like Chile, visit our blog.