Updated on April 19, 2018. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Today, Peru joins the growing list of South American countries that have legalized the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. However, the laws and regulations surrounding permissible legal action and criminalized offenses remains unseen as the country works to establish a definite set of guidelines to monitor cannabis use for qualifying medical patients.
Activists and users who experienced the therapeutic benefits of medical cannabis first-hand pushed for legislators to officially allow the use of marijuana for medical patients. While the Congress did pass a law that legalized the use of medical cannabis in 2017, an official medical marijuana program has yet to be formed in the country.
Citizens are still waiting for national officials to establish a regulatory framework for the program as of March 2018. Many civilians are pushing for “autocultivo,” or the ability to cultivate medical marijuana on one’s own land. The law passed in late 2017 authorized the possession, transport and sale of cannabis for medical purposes, but legislation is still in the process of developing legitimate rules and regulations that inform patients how they can lawfully access their medication.
As the second largest global producer of coca leaves — the source that serves as the foundation for the production of cocaine — Peruvian officials feared that drug gangs in Peru would branch out to include the creation of marijuana products in their illegal business endeavors. This worry, coupled with the belief that marijuana qualified as a drug as opposed to medication, prevented cannabis from becoming accepted in the country until recently.
The push for the legalization of medical marijuana came after outrage from the public declared the imprisonment of mothers making cannabis oil in a makeshift laboratory setting for their epileptic children unjust. Sparked by a wave of sympathy and beliefs that medical marijuana should be more readily available, President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski passed a bill in late 2017 that legalized the use of medical cannabis products for qualifying patients.
In Peru, the possession of cannabis for medical purposes is legal. Cultivation, however, is still an offense punishable by law — even for qualified patients who demonstrate a medical need for this substance. The government is still in the process of developing an official list of importers and growers who can supply medical marijuana patients in the country with their necessary cannabis products.
Telemedicine is a crucial component of accessing medical consultations and advice for many individuals scattered throughout Peru — especially those located in remote locations, such as near the Amazon jungle, and patients who cannot leave their homes due to their disabilities. Officials in the county want to increase the entire population’s access to telemedicine technology. However, it remains unclear whether medical marijuana patients will be able to access a prescription or diagnosis through these means.
Patients seeking medical cannabis will have to consult with a doctor the same way they would when seeking any other prescription or medicinal product in Peru. An authorized doctor will then diagnosis the individual and determine whether or not they would benefit from mairjuana. Once approved, the patient will have the option to receive cannabis from one of the nation’s authorized prescribers.
Peru does not yet have an official medical marijuana card patients can hold to demonstrate their authorized access to this product, and it remains unseen whether an official card will become a part of the nation’s program. Instead, the Ministry of Public Health will maintain a record of registered patients and monitor each patient’s use.
While Peru’s legalization of medical marijuana is still a relatively new concept to the country, here’s a look at what we know so far about their medical marijuana initiatives:
Because the medical marijuana laws in Peru are still in the process of being established, staying within the legal limits of medical cannabis use can be tricky. Before the legalization of medical marijuana, patients faced harsh punishments, such as prison sentences, even when they demonstrated debilitating health conditions. As the government works to establish a system to monitor medical cannabis use, many of the uncertainties surrounding lawful access will hopefully diminish.
Peru is still in its earliest stages of development and has yet to establish a legal framework that will monitor medical marijuana patients. That’s why it’s important to stay up to date on the latest cannabis news developing in the country.
For current news and frequent updates on the state of medical marijuana in Peru and other nations across the globe, be sure to check out our blog frequently.