Argentinian lawmakers have passed a bill legalising the medicinal use of cannabis oil and allowing the federal government to grow the drug for therapeutic and research purposes.
Parents of children with epilepsy pushed for legislators to introduce the bill and legalise cannabis production for medicinal use. Individuals who grew cannabis for personal use could face up to 15 years in prison under previous legislation. The new law was passed unanimously by 58 legislators.
"30% of epileptics do not respond to traditional medicine," Ana María García Nicora, director of the Medical Cannabis Argentina group, told local broadcasters. "My daughter has had epilepsy for 24 years and this is an option for her," she said.
"This is a dream fulfilled, an immense happiness because it will bring solace to patients," said Maria Laura Alasi, whose daughter suffers from epilepsy.
The new legislation fell short of allowing people to grow the recreational drug themselves, something parents of children with epilepsy had originally demanded.
"It is an imperfect law, but we have reached the beginning," Valeria Salech, president of the pro-marijuana group Mama Cultiva, said. "I have faith the senators will find a way around that," Alasi commented. "A lot of mothers are already growing their own."
Argentina is not the first country in South America to adopt legislation enabling the use of the recreational drug. Chile and Colombia have similar laws in place and Uruguay has legalised smoking marijuana. In Peru, a bill approving the use of cannabis oil is pending.