Argentina: NGOs authorized to cultivate cannabis for 150 patients

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Argentina’s health ministry announced in late March that associations will now be able to legally grow cannabis plants for medical purposes for their members.

A resolution now published in the Official Journal allows NGOs to be incorporated into Reprocann, the register of users and growers managed by the Argentine Ministry of Health, which will therefore have the authorization to produce cannabis legally.

Easy access to medical cannabis

Five years after the adoption of Law 27350, which legalized the medical use of cannabis in Argentina but which, until last year, did not guarantee access to this substance, the Ministry of Health has accepted the request of the Reprocann advisory board (composed of doctors, activists, scientists and national civil servants) and now authorizes associations to cultivate for a maximum of 150 patients.

Organizations will be allowed to cultivate on 15 square meters in different outdoor premises and up to 6 square meters in indoor cultivation per person, as long as they are duly authorized. Within this area, a maximum of nine flowering plants may be held per user.

Consumers who are members of NGOs will also have to register with Reprocann and be linked on the platform to the doctor authorizing the indication, as well as to the corresponding organization, in the role of third-party producers.

The rules for organizations mirror those established for individual consumers. This is the same authorized cultivation area, the same number of plants and the same authorization to transport flowers or oil inside Argentina: between one and six 30 milliliter bottles or up to ‘to 40 grams of dried flowers. The novelty in this case is that permission has been included to move with plants, always in the amount allowed per person represented.

One of the internal discussions that took place within the Advisory Council on this issue was specifically about the limit on the number of patients per organization. It was agreed that the limit should be 150, but there is a window for groups that exceed this number (some already do) to obtain an administrative permit from the National Program for the Study and Research of Medicinal Use of the cannabis plant, within the Ministry of Health.

Mamá Cultiva Argentina, one of the main associations that was already growing cannabis for its members, celebrated the decision: “NGOs, who supported the request, will be able to come out of hiding and we know that this success is the fruit of our struggle . As always, it’s a step further. We are not satisfied, the struggle is useful and we will seek more, but we think it is a good start for our work to be recognized, and our work for all these years, with the risk of criminalization,” said the representative of the organization, Valeria Salech.

According to official estimates, 110,000 patients are on the national register, and some 55,000 have already been approved. This register does not limit the authorized pathologies, contrary to the initial letter of law 27 350, voted at the end of March 2017, which limited its use – without offering forms of access – to patients with refractory epilepsy. In this case, only a medical indication and validation on the official registration page of the health professional are sufficient.

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