Updated on April 19, 2018. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Paraguay is one of South America’s most recent countries to legalize medical cannabis use, trailing close behind other nations such as Peru, Chile and Columbia. With the legalization of medical marijuana, patients can now access the alternative medicine products they need to find everyday relief and comfort.
One of the primary goals of the medical marijuana program in Paraguay is to eliminate the need for unreliable sources of marijuana supply for those who need it most. Rather than accessing cannabis from potentially dangerous sources, the nation now grants qualified patients access to the medical cannabis they need in safe facilities.
As the country continues to establish guidelines for its national cannabis program, it’s essential to remain up-to-date on Paraguay’s newest laws and regulations surrounding legal medical marijuana to avoid penalties. The nation recently passed a bill approving state-sponsored programs that will import marijuana seeds for qualifying patients.
In January 2018, president Horacio Cartes officially signed the medical cannabis bill that approved the legalization of medical cannabis. This bill removed marijuana from the list of the country’s “most dangerous drugs” and, in effect, re-categorized it as a medication instead.
Before signing legislation that decriminalized medical cannabis, Paraguay was one of South American’s largest producers of marijuana, producing an astonishing 9% of marijuana worldwide. In an attempt to lessen drug-related crimes and offenses, this fact was a major motivating factor in the decriminalization of medical marijuana.
As cannabis products began to show promising effects for individuals with qualifying conditions, as well, Congress finally pushed for a change in drug regulations.
In Paraguay, patients are now lawfully able to import marijuana seeds for oil production when they have a qualifying medical condition that necessitates cannabis use. They can also access cannabis legally and free of charge from the government when they voluntarily join specific scientific studies studying this drug. It is still illegal for citizens to grow marijuana for recreational purposes.
Telemedicine is growing in the medical field in Paraguay, and many patients are beginning to feel the benefits of virtual consultations and diagnoses. For those in remote villages or regions, telemedicine connects individuals to the resources they need to enhance their overall sense of wellbeing. While it may be ideal to see a doctor in-person whenever possible, it’s advised to connect with a physician via video conference calls whenever necessary, too.
Currently, the nation has a provision that permits patients access to their cannabis free of charge when they participate in national research programs that determine how efficient the plant is for medical users.
Although legislation permits the production of local cannabis products, it does not allow for personal cultivation. Because it can difficult for officials to determine what constitutes personal or medical crop, it’s best to seek your medication from a pharmacist instead.
Because the legalization of medical cannabis is still relatively new to the country, Paraguay is in the process of developing its national programs surrounding medical marijuana. Due to enhanced interest from healthcare professionals seeking a better understanding of the benefits of cannabis use, Paraguayans can receive free CBD oils and other derivatives when they join various national study programs. They can choose to import their own unique medications, too.
Although the medical cannabis laws in Paraguay have recently shifted and the country is still in the process of establishing a legitimate system, here’s a look at what we know so far:
Most penalties surrounding marijuana use and cultivation are enforced against recreational users, not medical marijuana patients. However, any individual caught cultivating cannabis for “personal cultivation” places themselves at risk of legal repercussions. In Paraguay, penalties range from minor fines to jail sentences. That’s why it’s crucial to stay informed on the laws as they continue to update.
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