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Sat Sep 24, 2016, 08:05 PM

Argentina's Chubut Province first to approve cannabis oil for medicinal use.

Last edited Sat Sep 24, 2016, 08:58 PM - Edit history (1)

Chubut Province has become the first Argentine province to approve the use of cannabis oil in the public health system.

The bill, passed by the Legislature and signed yesterday by Governor Mario das Neves, provides for the use of a class of cannabis oil known as Charlotte’s Web in the public health system not only for epilepsy caused by the Dravet syndrome but also “for other pathologies that the provincial health minister deems appropriate.”

The oil is manufactured by a company in the United States, where it is considered a medical form of cannabis in some states. Charlotte’s Web has a low percentage of THC, the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis. The law approved by the Legislature also stipulates that the oil be added into the list of medications covered by health programs provided to public employees.

Legislator Gustavo Fita of the center-left FpV, was “very satisfied because from now on Chubut families that need cannabis oil for the treatment of disease are no longer going to have the travel to the Customs Office in Buenos Aires (2,000 mi to the north) to obtain it. This treatment has reduced the number of seizures in epilepsy patients from 60 episodes to two to three per week, and of a lesser intensity. This will no doubt make this medication more available.”

Fita spearheaded the effort in the provincial legislature to approve the bill, which was eventually approved with 15 FpV votes, one from President Mauricio Macri's right-wing 'Let's Change' coalition, and several abstentions. The Macri administration opposes the use of medicinal marijuana, and has stepped up efforts to interdict its production and distribution from Argentina's rainy northeast as well as from Paraguay.

María Cecilia Rodríguez, Security Minister from 2013 to 2015 under Macri's populist predecessor, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, had stated that “the war on drugs has failed at a global level” and called for nationwide decriminalization of marijuana in the near future. Her stance created a backlash in this largely conservative Catholic nation of 43 million, although imports of small quantities of cannabis oil were approved for treatment of debilitating conditions.

Ana María Nicora, head of the CAMEDA medical cannabis organization, applauded the news. “It has opened up possibilities to move forward with the use of cannabis oil as a treatment; but we need a national law and domestic production,” she said.

Former President José “Pepe” Mujica on December 10, 2013, made neighboring Uruguay the first nation in the world to legalize the cultivation, sale, and consumption of marijuana - medicinal or not.

To Gustavo Fita, it's a matter of public health. “Micaela (a 7 year-old Chubut resident) had seen numerous specialists, took up to 27 pills a day, and was still suffering up to 10 seizures a day lasting up 35 minutes. Her mother, Carola, was hesitant to pursue alternative treatments; but today Micaela's seizures occur two or three times a week, and are less intense.”

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/222003/chubut-first-to-accept-cannabis-oil

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