44 votes in favor, zero against. The Panamanian deputies say a big “yes”, this Monday, to the law 153 legalizing medical cannabis. The text, entitled “For a day without pain”, must now be signed by the center-left president, Laurentino Cortizo. If it enacts the law, Panama will become the first country in Central America to allow medical cannabis.
It is the end of a legislative marathon, since it is the third vote in five years on this same bill. “Today is relief for patients, because they deserve it! “, rejoices the President of the National Assembly of Panama, Crispiano Adames. This law will particularly concern people suffering from multiple sclerosis, epilepsy or nausea due to chemotherapy.
Medicinal cannabis will only be sold in pharmacies. These must first receive the stamp of the Minister of Health. Establishments will also have to undergo several tests to ensure that they meet health standards.
No flowers allowed
Panama is putting in place several safeguards to prevent medical cannabis from being diverted for recreational purposes. Example: pharmacies will not be able to sell flowers, but only capsules or liquid extracts such as oils. Also, patients will be prohibited from practicing self-cultivation.
In this rather rich country, but very unequal, many patients did not have access to care. Fundacion Luces, for example, estimates that 40 to 50% of the 50,000 people with epilepsy have no medicine available.