The National Legislative Assembly of Panama has approved this Monday a bill that legalizes the medicinal use of cannabis with 44 votes in favor and none against. It thus becomes the first country in Central America to regulate the consumption of this substance.
The new law, which will come into force after its approval by President Laurentino Cortizo, will create a regulatory framework for the use and controlled access of cannabis “for therapeutic, medical, veterinary, scientific and research purposes”, as stated in the approved text.
This measure responds to a historical claim of patients from different pathologies, to which this substance could help mitigate pain, and to which they only had irregular access. Those who will see their quality of life improved are people with glaucoma, epilepsy, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, migraines or seizures and those who suffer from different types of pain, including those caused by cancer.
From now on, in Panama the import, export, cultivation, production and commercialization of cannabis and its derivatives will be allowed through licenses granted by the state. Its cultivation will take place in established areas with limited access and only pharmaceutical companies or companies specialized in therapeutic services will be able to acquire and commercialize it. Its illegal production and sale will be punished with penalties of 10 to 15 years in prison.
Thus, the sale of cannabis at home, through the Internet or outside authorized establishments is prohibited. Likewise, its advertising in the media or social networks will also be prohibited.
And in the rest of Latin America?
In the rest of the Latin American region there are already two countries that, in addition to regulating medicinal use, also allow the recreational use: Mexico and Uruguay.
The first approved its regulations less than two months ago from the hand of its judicial system, when the Plenary of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) declared the prohibition of marijuana unconstitutional.
Uruguay was the pioneer in this matter. Since 2013, it regulates the production and marketing of this plant for medical, recreational and industrial uses.
For its part, the use only medicinal It is regulated in many Latin American countries: Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina and Chile.
However, in the Central American and Caribbean region, Panama will be the first nation to remove this plant from illegality.
The approval of regulations that allow the cultivation and treatment of cannabis has cascaded in recent years as a means of taking advantage of the economic situation that involves gaining weight in a booming international market.