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Argentina’s Supreme Court May Decriminalize Cannabis Cultivation

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In 2017 lawmakers in Argentina passed a law that legalized cannabis for medical use. For the next few years, the new law essentially proved to be nothing more than symbolic as industry rules and regulations went nowhere. That had a direct, negative impact on patients who had no way of legally obtaining medicine.

In late 2020 Argentina’s President Alberto Fernández signed a decree calling for the legalization of home cultivation along with allowing pharmacies to sell medical cannabis products. Part of the decree also called on insurance companies to cover the costs of medical cannabis.

The catch to the 2020 decree, which is essentially the same catch that has hindered Argentina’s medical cannabis program since 2017, is that it relied on the creation of rules and regulations pertaining to licenses. Before someone can cultivate medical cannabis in Argentina they must first obtain a license from the government, and there is no licensing process in place.

Medical cannabis advocates are understandably frustrated with the situation, and some of those advocates are pursuing legal remedies. Argentina’s Supreme Court will hear arguments next month regarding the current status of home cultivation. Per excerpts from Mugglehead:

The court public hearings on April 27 and 28 will discuss whether it’s unconstitutional to criminalize cannabis cultivation for medical purposes. It will cover whether family members or organizations should be allowed to cultivate medical cannabis for patients, including children.

MAMAS Cannabis-Santa Fe (MACAME) — an organization of mothers who are advocating the therapeutic use of cannabis in Argentina — has been summoned to the hearing. Other professionals and organizations can sign up to speak as well if they have proven knowledge about medical cannabis. MACAME has put together a template to help people through the process if they want to speak.

The same group making the requests in this case made a similar request back in 2018 and it was rejected, however, a lot has changed since that time at the global level. Since 2018 Mexico, South Africa, and Italy have all had their Supreme Courts rule that cannabis prohibition as it applied to personal use (including cultivation) was unconstitutional.

The argument that is being made in Argentina also somewhat echoes what happened in the United States decades ago. When cannabis prohibition was first instituted in the United States it was via a ‘stamp tax’ which essentially meant that you could only have cannabis if you had a federal license, knowing that no such licenses would ever be created.

That public policy was eventually shot down by the Court in the United States because it’s a catch-22 that people could never get around. Something similar is occurring in Argentina, although only time will tell which way the Court rules on the specific arguments being made in this particular case.