Latin America has the potential to be one of the largest medical marijuana markets in the world. In addition to foreign investments, new legislation, and special cultivation licenses, here are some stories you might have missed about cannabis in Latin America this week.
Argentinian engineers develop cannabis extractor
In February, the Faculty of Design and Urbanism at the University of Buenos Aires unveiled a prototype design of a medicinal cannabis oil extractor called Nectar.
After legalizing medicinal marijuana, Argentina is pursuing a measured approach to the distribution of the drug. No in-country cultivation or distribution is permitted, partially due to lack of research and processing facilities to extract oil and manufacture medicine.
The UBA faculty wants to change that.
Industrial designer Franco Di Paolo of UBA told TSS, “In Argentina, there are no similar machines, and [users] utilize traditional, homemade devices such as pipes and pieces.” He continues to say that many amateurs seeking to extract oil from plants use dangerous “solvents like butane and alcohol . . . making it difficult to control the parameters of the extraction.”
First released in 2017, the department successfully applied for funding from Argentina’s labor ministry to develop further prototypes.
As funding increased, so did publicity. The scholars built a relationship with Mama Cultiva, a pro-CBD, patient activist group, which has been essential in pushing deregulation legislation forward.
Mama Cultiva’s mission is to ensure cheaper supply and sufficient access to CBD oil. The UBA extractor could prove to fulfill that goal.
Not everyone supports the legalization of recreational marijuana in Mexico
In November 2018, the new majority party in Mexico’s government, Morena, released a bill that would end the prohibition of medical, as well as, recreational marijuana. If passed, Mexico would become one of the few countries in the world to bypass international standards set by the United States and the United Nations.
The Morena Party, along with many Mexicans, believe that ending the prohibition of drugs will decrease drug trafficking, which prohibition failed to achieve, and assert that the ban violates citizens’ rights to control their bodies.
Not everyone agrees with the Mexican bill.
The International Narcotics Control Board, a UN watchdog, released a report in early March condemning Mexico’s desire to legalize recreational pot.
Their critiques are similar to those touted by those who support the ban on cannabis. The report suggests that legalization will allow youth easier access and that marijuana-related car accidents and psychosis are likely to increase.
The Board’s criticism suggests that despite regulations explicitly designed for cannabis, consumers and regulators violate them, leaving unstable situations in their wake.
The INCB issued similar critiques and warnings in 2013 and 2017 as California and Canada successfully passed recreational legalization.
In the United States, links between states where marijuana is legal are correlated to increased car accidents, but whether legal cannabis is the causation has not been proved.
Panama’s status on marijuana
There is a global understanding that marijuana and its derivatives can treat painful and negative symptoms of incurable diseases like epilepsy and cancer. Legislation across Latin America legalizing medical cannabis used this knowledge in their legislation.
Panama is the same, but the country is on a slower route to completing medical cannabis regulations.
In 2017, José Castillo, president of the health committee in the Panamanian legislature, presented Bill 595 advocating for the legalization of medical marijuana. The legislation indicated that only oils and liquid forms of the drug would be permitted. “We do not want to legalize recreational marijuana, only and exclusively for medical and therapeutic use in liquid forms,” he told Estrella Panama.
To pass, the bill must successfully progress through three debates within the legislature. One year ago, it received a stamp of approval after the first debate.
Investors and Panamanians anxiously wait for the results of the three debates. Panama’s position as a bridge between North and South America give it a strategic location for importers and exporters.
In February, the Panamanian government announced they will release the report with details of the legislation in March.