In recent years, some Latin American countries have reformed their controlled substances’ policy. For example, use of cannabis for therapeutic purposes is legal in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Peru. Bolivia’s Constitution recognizes use of the coca leaf. In Uruguay, cannabis use is legal and the government there regulates a free market for cannabis. Colombia has legalized and regulated cannabis production, sales and exportation for medicinal purposes, and the Colombian Ministry of Justice has granted several licenses to grow cannabis without psychoactive effect, which is defined as having content of tetrahydrocannabinol (aka “THC”) below 1% of the product’s dry weight.
This definition could affect manufacturers and sellers of non-psychoactive hemp oils, and could have major adverse implications for the free market of food products containing CBD oil, currently legalized.
In Panama, Bill 595 (the “Bill”) was recently introduced to legalize consumption of liquid marihuana for medicinal purposes. In Panama, cannabis use was declared illegal in 1928, and this drug is not registered as a pharmacology drug in the official list of medications of the Social Security Fund of Panama.
The Bill drew no distinction between psychoactive and non-psychoactive cannabis. Need for reform.
“Cannabis sativa, cannabidiol or marijuana is a species of herb of the family Cannabaceae. It is a perennial plant, dioecious, and originating from the Himalayan mountain ranges in Asia.”
Policy in Latin America governing medical cannabis use is evolving away from a blanket bar of any cannabis use. A few Central and South America countries allow use of cannabis and oils containing cannabidiol (aka “CBD”) for victims of epilepsy, appetite loss, nausea, chemotherapy-induced vomiting, or HIV/AIDS-associated pain or muscle spasms.
The Bill stems from parental concern for children suffering from epilepsy, and seeks to legalize liquid marijuana consumption for medicinal purposes, and also to stop the smuggling of these products.
Article 8 of the Billdefines cannabis as:
Unlike the laws of Colombia and other Latin American countries, this definition does not differentiate between non-psychoactive and psychoactive cannabis.
Panamá Opens the Door to the Legalization of Medicinal Cannabis with a Proposed Law Policy in Latin America governing medical cannabis use is evolving away from a blanket bar of any
Over a year after the legislature approved the draft in the first debate, the bill has been sent back to that stage after the amendments to the framework failed to pass the second debate.
The country is touted as having some of the best infrastructures in Latin America and is number 66 on the human development report by the United Nations.
Over the next year, legislators met with community leaders and industry stakeholders, which established the deregulation policies based on the legislation of other countries and input from the health and security sectors.
The first proposal of the bill in October 2017, presented by Legislator Jose Luis Castillo Gomez, states that the motivation of the draft is, “On the importance of the therapeutic use of cannabis, known as marijuana, it’s benefits are recognized when used for medicinal purposes.”
Only one major problem remains — medical cannabis is still illegal in Panama despite multiple years of legislative attempts to pass the bill into law.
In the 20-teens the country’s economy has grown rapidly at around 10 percent per year since the beginning of the decade. It is the largest financial hub in the Western Hemisphere, with banking laws reminiscent of Switzerland.
In a report from the Panamanian government, “The Health Commission … is informed by laws that already exist in countries of America and Europe to reach conclusions based on the scientific method.”
When the draft of the law passed the first debate, it appeared to be smooth sailing for the remaining stages of its passage.
Telemetro, a Panamanian news site, confirmed reports that legislators are worried about the securitization of the drug, indicating that the principal rejection of the bill arises from security issues; the same geographic benefits that would benefit a legal cannabis market in Panama, nourish the illegal market.
On February 12, 2019, Panama City hosted more than 60 speakers for two days in its first ever medical cannabis conference. The conference was a premier meeting of some of the biggest movers in the medical cannabis sphere and was a resounding, sold out, success.