CANNABIS IN PERU, FROM MEDICAL USAGE TO HEMP INDUSTRY FORECAST
By: Alejandra Vargas, Head of Legal & Compliance at Futura Farms
It is well-known in our country that most politicians and public officials are extremely conservatives when referring to the usage of psychedelics and common drugs. Therefore, cannabis has always carried a strong taboo.
Notwithstanding all conservative oppositions, over six years ago multiple bills were presented to the Congress of the Republic requiring the legalization of the usage of cannabis for medical and therapeutical purposes. More surprisingly, the first registered bill was signed directly by the President of the Republic and the President of the Council of Ministers on February 22, 2017.
This root event was triggered upon the police intervention to representatives of a self-care association that was auto-cultivating cannabis plants in order to treat patients diagnosed with diseases such as refractory epilepsy. Among the intervened, a group of women caught the people’s attention, as they were the mothers of the patients treated, and positively responding to the medicinal and therapeutic properties of the plant.
The bills were promoting the constitutional guarantees to allow them to continue treating their children with methods that had demonstrated their effectiveness in endorsed clinical studies and in patients.
The positivization of cannabis in Peru began in 2017 as a consequence of the committed and hard work carried out between State representatives, professional medical staff and patients in need of specific treatments. Thus, Peru became the twentieth country to approve access to cannabis for its medicinal and therapeutic use upon the enactment of Law No. 30681, but the struggle to achieve true access to the benefits of cannabis hasn’t ceased as it’s far yet to be reached.
Regulations issued have, indeed, unfortunate limitations as they turned out to uphold a strictly pharmaceutical perspective, leaving aside artisan growers and far too many patients already adapted to the specific profile of native plants they grew for their own personal treatments. As an amendment to this matter, in 2021 the Law that Regulates the Medicinal and Therapeutic Use of Cannabis and its Derivatives was modified by Law No. 31312, incorporating artisanal production with associative cultivation.
As a result of this modification, Ministerial Decree No. 005-2019-SA regarding the Ministry of Heath specifics on the process of production, importation, and commercialization of the plant and its derivates have been replaced by Decree No. 004-2023-SA, effective September 1, 2023. However, licenses and prescriptions are still required in every process, including when referring to CBD (Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum, Isolates and other non-psychotropic derivates).
In keeping with the spirit of the standards and in recognition of the efforts that endorsed the legalization of cannabis in Peru, the pharmaceutical industry has put outstanding efforts into diversify product portfolios, provide fair and accessible prices and promote the decentralization of the dispensing of the products in despite the investment that compliance with regulatory requirements implies. Unfortunately, ensuring the effective communication to the consumer is restricted by current regulations, and this hinders the access of patients and limits the rightful exercise to express an opinion and make decisions throughout quality information.
At Futura Farms, we continuously work to democratize access to cannabis, aiming to real and fair access to the benefits of plant in order to maximize (i) the medicinal and therapeutic properties that contribute to the well-being of the citizen, and, on the other hand, (ii) the market opportunity that its cultivation and processing means for the country’s economy.
It seems still hard for some to accrete that the Single Convention on Narcotic Drug (UN, 1961) expressly exempted the industrial cannabis plant -also known as “hemp”- from restrictions, releasing its cultivation. Accordingly, hemp derivates must stop being treated as a taboo since (i) it promotes the health and well-being of those who consume it for medicinal and therapeutic purposes, duly guided by trained health professionals, and (ii) it represents an opportunity to boost the Peruvian industrial sector at multiple production scales.
Fortunately, in this last aspect, representatives of State have reached a multisectoral consensus that would open the doors of the sustainable hemp market to Peru. Granting there are still many aspects to define before being able to have a defined framework, we applaud the progress made in Congress and the willingness of these representatives to recognize the potential that cannabis means for our country and its citizens.
The forecast of cannabis in Peru remains partly cloudy with promising midday sunlight, as reported by a Corporative Peruvian lawyer. Most definitely, it remains a priority to educate, at every level of society, specially involved authorities, and health professionals, in order to prevent overregulating the system -as overregulation has been proved to be our favorite drug.